Having a good strategy for post flop play is vital – Once the pre-flop betting is completed then three community cards are dealt face up together (the flop).
This is the defining moment in Texas Hold’em – You’ve now seen five cards out of 7 – that’s of 70% of your hand and you should now be pretty clear where you stand.
In other poker games the cards are dealt out one at a time so your strength will either gradually develop or diminish … not so with Hold-em.
The flop is where it all comes together or all falls apart – what looked good before the flop could all be in tatters after it.
This is the time to be realistic about what you’ve got.
Remember if you’ve slow played (link) your AA then now you have to really decide if its still good –
with AA seeing a flop like 678 suited you really are going to wish you hadn’t let 5 other players get to the flop.
That’s why you should have played the big hands hard (link)
Generally its simple so long as you stick to it –
a) Got nothin’ – Fold
If it looked good before the flop but nothing has worked out – GET OUT
b) Not got much – Fold (see exceptions)
Don’t go crazy just ‘cos you’ve made middle or bottom pair – don’t go on some long shot with 2 cards to the flush or inside straight draws.
All that is going to happen is a decent player or anyone with a half decent hand is going to make you pay for every card.
Don’t be calling on the flop if your probably going to have to fold on the 4th if someone bets into you.
Even making top pair can become troublesome if you have a weak kicker – going with these hands to the river can cost you a fortune.
Exceptions – Position, Suspicion & Cheap draws
If you have the benefit of good position and you have a good suspicion that someone is bluffing, on a semi bluff or over playing a weaker hand then go at them – but don’t let them get a chance from seeing the next card.
Semi-Bluffing (link) developed by David Sklansky is an important part of the game – basically betting with a hand that you don’t want to get called (like a bluff) but if it is called then it stands a fair chance of winning.
This must not to be confused with being Semi-Stupid ie. flat calling and going in with less than half a chance and even less idea what your up against.
Cheap Draws – If you are on a half decent draw (ie you’ve made 4 to the flush or you have an open ended straight draw – 4 cards in order requiring 1 more card at either end giving you twice the number of outs (link) and it isn’t going to cost you a lot to see then next card – stay in
c) you’ve got something – Bet
Don’t be shy – you will loose more money giving people half a chance to improve, than you will by people folding and not calling your good size bets or raises.
Don’t forget its better to take down the pot early and win … than to get greedy, out drawn by the river and loose.
Don’t pussy around trying to play clever to start of with – unless you really have got the unbeatable nuts – always make ’em pay to play.
There is are added advantages of playing hands your in consistently hard and clever stuff like Check raising, slow play, semi bluffs, tactical betting patterns, understanding pot odds / implied odds, tells, reverse tells, changing gears etc are covered in more detail later in the articles section.