How to Make Tricky Flops Profitable

How to Make Tricky Flops Profitable

Friday, 29 June 2012

If you’ve been following the series of articles you should now know how to play a balanced range and be able to read opponents’ ranges from each position pre-flop. Now it’s time to maximise profits on certain flops and to see how our opponents react. The difference in skill between regular online players is very small pre-flop but some have major weaknesses post-flop. Detailed below are some areas in which you can exploit this.

Generally online regs play tricky flops very cautiously and fail to gain an edge where you should be able to. Any stats given on success rates have been gained from analysis of millions of hands from various players.

Monotone Flops

The odds of you holding two suited cards and then flopping a flush are very small, less than 1%, but you will encounter a monotone board quite frequently where you won’t have flopped the world, (obviously, the exact odds will depend on what you’re holding). If you’re the aggressor pre-flop then these boards are very good to c-bet as the success rate of this bet is above average. However, if you get called, your opponents will have a range which will include a lot of pair-plus-draw hands, so even if you’re value-betting you should bear this in mind. Because of the equity of your opponent’s calling range, any value-bet on this kind of flop will be thin.

If your opponent raises on a monotone board, this would suggest: 1) he has a very strong hand, or 2) he can see your cards when you bluff. So fold anything but the nuts.

You only have to think about the opponents’ calling range pre-flop to determine that it is unlikely he will have just a low flush draw. How often does he call pre-flop with off suit cards if they are not pairs? Also, when you c-bet as the pre-flop raiser, you can easily have connected with a monotone board. An ace-high flush draw fits perfectly into your range.

So, in summary, the “one and done” method, when bluffing, is recommended. Bet your strong hands for value and hope weaker opponents will call you down with worse. Be wary of raisers and be prepared to make big lay downs.

Paired Boards

These occur more frequently than you may think so it’s important that you make the most out of them. Check your poker software and filter just for paired boards/flops and if this is a leak, plug it.

By the river, you can expect the board to be paired 50% of the time. The flop is going to be paired approximately 17% of the time. So, nearly 1 in 5 times, you will be faced with a “tricky” situation.

As the aggressor, it is again recommended that you c-bet with a high frequency because this has a very high success-rate compared to the average (roughly 60%). Most of the time you will be bluffing but with some equity, such as with A-K on a board of 4-4-6. If you find your opponent is calling you, then it’s time to fire a second barrel on most turn cards, whether as a bluff again or for value if you hit your card. The chance of your opponent actually having the trips compared to all his other possibilities is small. After a lot of analysis, I have found that players call with medium pairs, top pair, under-pairs, straight draws, flush draws and even just over cards hoping to hit the turn.

When you’re playing against a good regular he won’t put you on the trips either. This is because if the board is a small or medium pair, this is unlikely to be in your range as the raiser, especially if you’re in early position. However, your perceived range will include strong pairs, so if you get raised on the turn you are probably beat.

If you find yourself out of position on these boards with a good-but-exposed hand such as an over pair, try and keep the pot quite small. Obviously, you should still be bluffing a fair amount of the time, especially with two over-cards.

Straight Draw Boards

It’s difficult to give the odds for any connected board where possible straights or straight draws occur that are not paired or monotone. This is due to the many types of flops where someone can hit a straight, whether it’s a two-gapper, 5-8-9; a one-gapper, 7-9-T; or fully-connected, T-J-Q.

C-betting these types of flops yields the worst success rate of the three types of board – less than the normal 45% taken as an average against one, two and three opponents (depending on the stakes it varies from 30%-40%).

There are a few reasons for this and you can use them yourself against a pre-flop raiser’s c-bet.

1) A raiser’s range is typically weighted towards the stronger hands, especially from earlier position, so many opponents do not believe that they have connected with low, wet boards. They will often call with marginal pairs and any draws.

2) These types of flops easily fall into the pre-flop calling ranges of opponents in the blinds.

3) Connected boards make perfect boards to float on, especially in position.

4) Out of position, a strong move would be to check-raise or even donk-bet as a bluff. (Make sure you are balanced and do the same when you actually hit the flop too).

Maths Bit

Of the 22,100 possible flops there are 4,096 that allow for a player to have flopped a straight (18.5%). I am not saying you should not c-bet any of these flops, but be more selective with the ones that you target. Make sure you raise pre-flop with low connected cards as well as big cards so that you are balanced. Try this from all positions, a small amount of premiums and small suited connectors from UTG and expand each range as you get closer to the button.

In summary, think about why you are c-betting these boards and how your opponent will react. Target opponents who call too often from out of position with a wide range of hands. Thin value-bet more on the bigger, broadway boards but avoid over-playing one-pair hands on the low, straight-drawing boards. ?

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