While many online poker players focus on the pre-flop, the post-flop strategy is just as critical to poker success. Every poker player needs to learn how to size their bet according to their hand and their opponent’s skill level. But fear not. We’re here to help you understand how to size your bets and make clever moves after the flop.
Wait, what is a flop?
Not every player has mastered poker lingo and terminology. Before we look at how to bet after the flop, let’s define the flop.
In poker, particularly variations like Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em, the term flop refers to the action of dealing out the first three face-up cards. It can also refer to the cards themselves. As a verb, flop can have one of two meanings. When the dealer flops, they’ve dealt the first three communal cards. If a player flops, they have made a hand out of the first three face-up cards.
The flop is a crucial stage in any poker game. In Texas Hold ‘em games, players know 71% of their hand after the flop. Even though most poker guides focus on the pre-flop (the stage where the hole cards are dealt), the post-flop bet is an opportunity to use what you know to make a rewarding, informed decision.
How to find the right bet after the flop
To help demystify the art of betting post-flop, we’ve put together a beginner-friendly guide to help you think like a poker pro when you bet after the flop.
Study your opponents
Before you choose your bet, you need to analyze the people you’re playing against. Is your opponent experienced and skilled? Are they weak and inexperienced?
There are different bet sizing approaches. Against skilled and observant opponents, a balanced betting system works best. If your opponents are weaker, try exploitative betting. Let’s take a closer look at what these betting styles are.
Choose your bet sizing approach
There is no perfect bet. This guide isn’t designed to tell you how much or how big to bet. Instead, it will help you to take advantage of what you see to pick the optimal bet after the flop. You can’t memorize all the unique positions in poker, so it’s better to use theory and reasoning to make your decisions.
What is balanced and exploitative bet sizing?
The most prevalent post-flop mistake in poker is using a bet sizing system that gives away the strength of your hand. If you just bet big with every strong hand, your opponents will quickly notice this pattern and exploit it. But you can’t just do the opposite, either. You still want to get maximum value from a high-quality hand.
There are two main approaches to bet sizing for the post-flop stage. In balanced betting, your bet size does not reveal your hand strength. This is because you use the same balanced size bet for your strong hands, your bluffs and every hand you are dealt. Exploitative betting aims to make the most money from a strong hand. In exploitative betting, the player will adjust the bet size depending on the strength of their hand.
It’s advisable to take a balanced approach when dealing with skilled competition and to make an exploitative bet only when you feel confident.
Factors that should affect your bet size post-flop
When you’re deciding how much to bet after the flop, these factors should inform your decision.
Stack-to-pot ratio (SPR)
You can bet smaller when you have a shallow or short stack. A shallow or short stack is when a player has fewer chips than the rest of his opponents. If you have a short stack, you can still succeed with a bluff if you have a strong hand. If you have a deeper stack, you can bet bigger the deeper your chip stack is.
The pot odds can help guide you to the right bet size. Generally, you should bet between half and the entire pot size to make it difficult for your opponents to exploit you. But use this advice wisely. You don’t want to make automatic bets that are easily predictable.
Poker board texture refers to how cards on the board connect with each other or how they affect hand ranges. The board texture is one of the most important factors to consider when betting after the flop. Players are more likely to get called on wet coordinated boards because their opponents are more likely to connect with them. An example of a wet board would be a jack of spades, 10 of spades and an 8 of hearts. Being called on a dry board is unlikely because the cards on the table have no connection. An example of a dry board would be a king of clubs, 8 of diamonds and 4 of hearts.
If you’re betting for value, increase your bet size on wet boards, especially if you have a strong hand like a straight or sets.
Overcalling and overfolding opponents
Some opponents have a tendency to call more than usual and others overfold. When you have an opponent who overcalls, bluff less and play your stronger hands more aggressively. With an opponent who overfolds, you can increase your bluffs.
Questions to ask yourself at the post-flop stage
Use the following questions to help you think analytically after the post-flop. Keep these questions in mind when you’re placing your post-flop bet.
- Does the flop improve my hand?
- Do I think the flop has helped my opponents?
- Are there any potential draws? (i.e., a flush or straight draw)
- Is there a board pair on the flop that might give my opponent the lead?
- How likely am I to have the highest hand?
Do not be scared of betting after the flop. At this point in the game, you have the most information at your disposal to make strategic and potentially rewarding moves. Mastering your post-flop betting strategy will help you get the most out of strong hands and prevent easy exploitation when you have a weak hand. But knowledge is useless if it doesn’t inspire action. Play poker online to test your poker instincts in a real game.
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