Poker Tips: Playing after the Flop

Waiting for the flop in Texas Hold ’Em poker is like opening a locked 16th century chest.

You have no idea what you’re going to find inside, and when the lid is finally lifted, you will either be heavily rewarded with valuable treasure, or completely discouraged to find that the chest is empty.

CSL079When playing Texas Hold’em the flop is what lies covered in the chest. It’s either filled with cards that will help you make your hand, and thus lead you to the rewards of winning the pot. Or, you may completely miss your hole cards, and the only chance you have of winning the hand is on a bluff.

If you have decided to play your two hole cards and see what the flop has to offer, you have to be able to put your excitement (or disappointment) aside, and change your strategy 180 degrees.

How you play after the flop is determined by several factors, including whether you raised, re-raised or checked before the flop; how many opponents remain in the hand; and whether the game is being played tightly or loosely.

But the biggest factor, of course, is what cards are revealed on the flop.


Top pair: If you’ve flopped a pair, and are holding a high kicker, you’re in great shape. Chances are that you have the best hand on the board (if there is no other pair showing). And if the three flopped cards are unsuited, the decreased flush potential makes your pair look ever better.

A specific scenario is that you were dealt a 10 and 9 of diamonds, stayed in the hand to see the flop, and then flopped top pair when an unsuited 10-7-2 hit the board.  This is a hand you should bet in a tight game, but check in a loose one where everyone sticks around to see the flop.

The more players that stick around after the flop, the more chances there are that an ace, king or jack is lurking in one of your opponent’s their hand, that could be hit on the turn or river.


Drawing hand: With a drawing hand you flop the potential to make your hand without actually hitting your hole cards (just yet). Four to a flush or a high open-ended straight draw, sway the pot odds in your favor with two or more players in the hand.

For example, if you played that 10-9 diamond connector we discussed a moment ago, and the flop went king of diamonds, six of diamonds, two of spades, you now have the four-flush. You have a one in four shot of hitting the flush on the turn, and one out of five of hitting it on the river.

Betting options can go in many directions. When playing in a large event with many players entered, you may want to limit your bets if you don’t draw the winning hand. Against a small field, if you draw the nut flush, or the best flush available within each hand, go heavy or go home when it comes to bets and raising.


Major hand: It’s doesn’t happen very often, but dream flops do come true. If you flop two pair, trips, straights, flushes, full houses, or even better, you will likely win the hand. But you still have to know how to play it in order to gain the maximum amount of profit.

Analyze what it will take for the other players to beat you on the turn or river. If you’re in a loose game, bet heavy. If it’s tight, bet conservative and string some of the other players along.


Swing and a miss: If the flop completely misses your hole cards, don’t just assume that you’re out of the running. Your next action depends on what the other players did before the flop, and whether they’re looking to fold or bet. For example, if you paid to see the flop with an A-9 suited, and the result was J-6-3 off-suit, you’re not done yet. Your ace-high might be the best hand on the table. Try to get a read on your players, and bet accordingly. A solid value bet might just win you the hand.

Learn from the Pros at Full Tilt Poker