- Texas Holdem - Advanced Training Program

The Flop Strategy

The flop strategy is divided into two categories, 'drawing' hands and 'made' hands. For simplicity, the 'made' hands are played the same as the river strategy. If you flop a pair of kings with no over card on the board, play the hand as same as you would on the river and raise.

Drawing Hands

Pair = 2 outs

Drawing hands are hands on the flop that have the potential to make a set/trips, straight, flush, full house or greater. When you flop a pair, there are two cards left in the deck that can make a set/trips. These two card are called 'outs', so a pair has 2 'outs' that can make a winning 'made' hand (trips and above). 'Outs' can be used as a rough estimate of the percentage of advantage. 2 outs is approximately +2% advantage. Because a flush is better than a straight, the percentage of advantage for the outs are different. For simplicity, do not be concerned about is difference.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Td  

Inside Straight Draw = 4 outs

A straight draw is a hand on the flop where only one card is needed to make the straight. If the needed card to make the straight is a middle card, this is an inside straight draw. Because only one card can complete the straight, there are four actual cards remaining in the deck, thus an inside straight draw has 4 'outs'.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Td  

Outside Straight Draw = 8 outs

An outside straight draw is when the needed card is the highest or lowest card that will complete the straight. Because two different cards can complete the straight, there are eight actual cards remaining in the deck, thus an outside straight draw has 8 'outs'. Having one or two cards in your hand that are used in straight draw does not change the percentage of advantage much. The big difference in hand value is that a two card straight is difficult to read by the other players.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Td  

Flush Draw = 8 outs

A flush draw is when only one card is needed to make a flush. When four suited cards are showing, there are eight of the thirteen suited cards remaining in the deck, thus a flush draw has eight 'outs'.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Td  

When you have only one suited card in your hand and three suited cards are on the table, do not count this as a flush draw. After analysis, a one card flush draw with the suited king or ace in your hand does have a positive advantage and can be played as a flush draw with 8 'outs' on the flop.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Td  

Backdoor Straight Draw = 1.5 outs

A backdoor straight draw is a hand on the flop where two cards are needed to complete a straight. A backdoor straight draw has an advantage of about 1.5%, thus for simplicity it is counted as 1.5 outs.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Td  

Backdoor Flush Draw = 1.5 outs

A backdoor flush draw is also a hand on the flop where two cards are needed to complete a flush. A backdoor flush draw has an advantage of about 1.5%, and it is counted as 1.5 outs.

Flop    
8c 5h 2c
Hand    
8d Kd  

Loose Game Drawing Hands

When playing a hand on the flop, use the river strategy to determine how to play the hand. If you cannot play/call the hand as a 'made' hand, then determine if you should play/call the 'drawing' hand. To determine the percentage advantage of a 'drawing hand' on the flop, total the 'outs' of all possible draws. For example, a flop hand with a pair and a flush draw would have 10 'outs'. As the same with the river strategy, should the percentage of advantage be positive, play/call the drawing draw. There is an optimum percentage of advantage that should be played based on the pot odds. Generally, seasoned players will use the rule of playing with four 'outs' or greater. After analysis, using hand statistics and game simulation program, I came to the conclusion that a drawing hand of 4 outs or greater should be played in a loose game. If you have pair with a backdoor straight draw and backdoor flush draw on the flop, you have 5 outs and should play/call the hand even if you have a pair of twos. Always play/call any flush or straight draw.

Tight Game Drawing Hands

When less than half of the players play their preflop hand, the game is concidered a 'tight' game. In a 'tight' game, the pot odds are not as good and you should only play your stronger drawing hands. In a 'tight' game on the flop only play drawing hands with 6 outs or greater. When you have more than 10 outs, the estimate of the percentage of advantage is about +10%. Raising a hand with more than 10 outs can be considered a correct move. However, if you do not have a 'made' winning hand, I do not recommend raising, unless you are trying to scare people off the table.

Drawing Hands on the Flop

Backdoor straight draw = 1.5 outs
Backdoor flush draw = 1.5 outs
Pair = 2 outs
Inside straight draw = 4 outs
Outside straight draw = 8 outs
Flush draw = 8 outs
Flush draw one card K high = 8 outs
Flush draw with inside straight draw = 11 outs*
Flush draw with outside straight draw = 15 outs*

Call 6 outs and above in a tight game
Call 4 outs and above in a loose game

* One card is used for both flush and straight draws

Continue to . . .
06 The Turn Strategy

 

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