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The Texture of the Flop

 

 

Studying the texture of the flop will help you decide how to best play your cards.

 

The texture of some flops is as smooth as velvet, while others are as rough as burlap. When the flop hits the felt, take your time to study the boardcards in relation to your hand and your opponents’ possible hands. Is it a safe flop for your hand, or is it dangerous?

 

Flops that contain connecting cards such as J-10-8 of different suits offer many drawing possibilities. In addition to draws, coordinated flops might contain cards that make one- or two-pair hands. For example, one player may have an A-J for top pair with top kicker, but someone else holding J-10 has flopped top two pair. And if someone has a Q-9 or 9-7, he has flopped a straight. Another player may have K-Q, giving him two overcards and an open-end straight draw. As you can see, with that many possibilities out on the flop, any hand that is in the lead is very vulnerable to drawing hands. Plus, flush draws could also be out if two of the flop cards are suited. For example, if you are holding pocket tens, this is not the type of flop with which you want to slow-play your set, or any other strong hand, such as two pair or a straight.

 

Now, suppose the flop comes Q-J-8. Flops that contain two or more facecards can help many players’ hands. Players play facecards for good reasons, and when two or more show up on the flop, you can bet that someone has been helped. If you think you have the best hand on this type of flop, you must protect it with a big bet or a raise.

 

Players often play middle suited connectors. Coordinated flops that fit their connectors are what they’re looking for, and these types of flops can be dangerous if you’re playing a big pair. For example, suppose the flop comes down with 8-7-6, you are holding Q-Q, and you make a pot-sized bet. If an opponent comes over the top of you, watch out. You’re probably in bad shape. The lesson here is, be wary of connecting cards, especially facecards, if you have a one-pair hand, even if you have an overpair to the flop.

 

Some flops are reasonably safe and you can consider slow-playing a big Pkv Poker hand. For example, suppose a player in early position makes a small raise before the flop. Two other players call and you decide to call from the button with 2-2. The flop comes K-7-2 of mixed suits. Unless one of your opponents has K-K or 7-7 in the hole, you are in great shape. Not only do you have a hand that is very difficult to draw out on, you have superior position. This gives you lots of options on how to get the most value out of your hand. If the original raiser leads out with a bet, you can smooth-call, even if another player has already called in front of you. If a nonthreatening card such as a 5 hits on the turn, you can call again if one of your opponents bets, and wait until the river to either bet if its checked to you, or raise if an opponent bets.

 

Here’s another example of a good flop. Suppose you have a hand like the Aspades Kdiamonds. You make a standard raise and get two callers. The flop comes Kspades 5clubs 3hearts. You like the texture of this flop because it is unlikely that there are any straight draws or two-pair hands out against you. You can make a bet and expect to get called by an opponent who holds a king in his hand with a weaker kicker. There’s a slim chance of running into a set, of course, but your chances of winning with top pair and top kicker are excellent.

 

Before closing this column, I would like to pay tribute to George Fisher, former director of poker operations at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas, who died last month. George was a close friend of mine, as well as a good friend to poker. “He was always a pleasure to work with and helped me immensely with my duties as director of the World Series of Poker,” Matt Savage told me in paying homage to George.

 

A Navy veteran and the former owner of Fisher’s Appliances in Las Vegas, George was born in Hong Kong in 1939 and spoke Chinese fluently. He loved playing poker in live action and online, and was a master of the game of razz. He also was an avid fisherman and often took his loving companion Sandra Green with him on fishing vacations. “George was the nuts!” she told me. I couldn’t agree more.

 

Until next time, I hope to meet you in the winner’s circle one day soon.