The flop is where things start to get interesting and where you as a player must start to evaluate the relative strength of you hand in relation to the hands of the other players. It is important that you re-evaluate your hand after the flop. The strength of your hand pre-flop is not worth anything once the flop has hit the table. A strong pre-flop hand can be worthless after the flop and a weak pre-flop hand might develop into a strong hand. It is very important that you do not fall in love with your pre-flop hand. Falling in love with your pre-flop hand is one of the most common mistakes among less experienced players. This is a mistake that can be very costly.
Once you have evaluated the strength of your hand you should evaluate the flop itself. Is it a dry or a wet flop. A wet flop is a flop with a lot of possible draws. A dry flop is a flop without straight or flush draws. The wetter a flop is the more volatile the hand will be.
There are 4 different scenarios for the flop.
Your hand did not improve
If you hand did not improve then you should usually take the first chance to get out of it. If you get the chance to see another free card you should of course do that. There are two situations when it can be a good idea to bet even though your hand did not improve.
- You raised pre-flop and you think you can win the hand by making the continuation bet.
- You are playing form a late position and think you might be able to buy the pot.
Your hand did not improve but you got an over pair
An over pair is a pocket pair that is higher than any pair that can be made from the cards in the flop. An over pair is usually a strong hand that can be very profitable. This is especially true if your opponent got the top pair with a high kicker. If you got an over pair you should play the flop very aggressively. Your goal should be to win the hand on the flop without giving your opponents the chance to see another card. Never slow play an over pair.
It is important to remember that an over pair isn’t a very strong hand. It is just a pair. Do not be afraid to fold over pairs if other players are playing aggressively.
You got a draw
Draws are seldom worth to see unless you can do so for free. A draw is only worth playing if there are several other players in the pot. You need to get a possible return of at least 4 to 1 for it to be worth playing a flush or Straight draw. There has to be at least $4 in the pot for every $1 you have to spend to call the bet.
Your hand improved
Hopefully you hand improved when the flop hit the table. If it did then you need to adjust your play depending on what type of hand you got.
Weak Hands (pairs)
Weak hands have to be played carefully. The best option is usually to make a smaller bet (4BB) to see how the other players react and try to evaluate your hands relative strength in comparison to the other players.
Decent hands ( over pair, top pair with with kicker)
These hands are usually best played aggressively. Try to kill them on the flop. Do not let your opponents see another cheap card.
Strong hands (Flush or Straight)
These hands are often best played aggressively. This is especially true if you got a low flush. Try to kill the hand to prevent that a forth suited card is placed on the table. If you got a strong flush or a top straight you might consider slow playing these hands if you think that will give you a higher return. Never slow play a hand where the opponent might have a draw that beats your hand if he hits it.
Very Strong Hands (Full house, straight flush, 4 of a kind)
Play a very strong hand however you think you will earn the most money. Do not be afraid to slow play it. Against some opponents it can be better to play overly aggressive to add more money to the pot. These hands seldom generates a large profit.