The Flop is the stage of a poker game when the strength or weakness of your hand can really become apparent. Flop strategy is important as it can help to determine a winning or losing hand. It is important to analyze the flop texture and the potential of the flop cards. In some cases, you may be lucky to come across a simple flop where the decision to raise or fold is an easy one, but many times, the flop can be tricky and you will need to analyze the situation to work out the best possible play.
Analyze the Flop Texture
The texture of the flop is the cards the flop holds and the different possibilities it presents. You need to always keep in mind if there are any straight possibilities with the flop or any flush possibilities. It is also important to keep in mind that some players may have drawing hands and players may not only call because they have a made hand, but possibly because they have a draw for a stronger hand.
Considering the Flop and your Hand
You need to always keep in mind how your hand is – did it improve with the flop; did it not improve or are you on a draw. This will help you determine the strategy to take.
If your hand did not improve, you need to look at folding at the first possible opportunity. You are not losing money by folding a weak hand. On the contrary, you will lose far more money by hanging onto a hand that is weak and pouring more money into a pot you have little chance of winning. Another reason to consider folding is if the flop holds a high card, such as an Ace that cannot help you. The chances are that at least one other player will be able to make at least a high pair using that card and unless you can beat it, you should fold early.
If your hand improved with the flop, you need to look at exactly how strong the hand is before you decide how to play. The strength of your hand will determine how you play the next betting rounds.
Fair Hands - A Pair; A Middle Pocket Pair or a Top Pair with Poor Kicker
You have a bit of leeway here and should see what the rest of the action at the table is like. If you are raised, unless you are sure your opponent is bluffing, it is a good idea to fold. If you have a top pair you can call, but for a low pair it is a good idea to fold.
Good Hands - Top Pair with High Kicker or Two Pair
You quite possibly have the strongest hand at this stage so you don’t want to give your opponents any chances. You should bet and raise to create worse odds for your opponents.
Strong Hands - Set, Straight or Flush
You will want to increase the size of the pot, considering that there is a chance you may win it. Bet with weak flushes to create worse odds for your opponents.
Winning Hands – Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush
Bet and raise to try to increase the size of the pot, although with such a strong hand you may end up winning a small pot.
On a Draw
If you hold a drawing hand on the flop, you will need to see the turn in order to decide how to play. Try to do this by spending as little money as possible. In low limit games the risk is lower.