Requiring the perfect blend of skill and luck, poker is a classic game for both amateur and competitive players. Though luck is fickle, players can weather the unpredictability of the game with strategy and skill. There are countless strategies and tips that cover all aspects of poker. Here are some things to look out for in post-flop poker.
Why is post-flop important?
Most strategies, especially for beginners, empathize on pre-flop. Pre-flop provides a good foundation as it minimizes difficult decision-making, thus avoiding problems that may rise further in the game. Having said that, many experienced players are turning their attention to post-flop strategies.
In poker rooms like this one, post-flop action occurs after the three community cards are dealt. Expert post-flop players usually deal with as many hands as possible. This is to catch their opponents off guard, gaining an edge over them.
Position is everything in poker. Adjustments must always be made for position. Considerations for position are usually taken into account pre-flop, but it also directly impacts post-flop action. What’s more, players must always consider the consequences that their pre-flop decisions will have on post-flop positions. It is best to avoid acting first after the flop as openers will take action after your decision. Conversely, the factors you need to take into account decrease when you act later, which also decreases your error rate.
Aggression (or lack thereof)
While it is true that aggressive players that take hands away from their opponents usually have an advantage, aggression is not the be-all-end-all. Aggressive players are also susceptible to traps set by players who are more cautious and shrewd. Instead of relying on an aggressive playing style, you should also consider other factors such as other players, the nature of the table, and, most importantly, your position.
Sometimes it is necessary to put your ego and worries aside and just cut your losses. After all, not losing chips is more important than blindly refusing to fold. Folding may be necessary when you are hit with extraordinarily bad luck where you hit or hit a minor piece. Folding multiple times to the same player is perfectly fine, regardless of what your ego may think. While it is understandable that you may want to personally retaliate against a player who pushed you off of a couple of hands, giving in to the temptation may be unfavorable to winning. It may cause you to focus too much on a single player, play against someone when you have a bad hand or are out of position, or take bets and raises that are beyond your capabilities.
Chancy events such as coin flips should be avoided post-flop. This is especially true if you know your strategies are above average, or at least better than most of your opponents. While it is true that coin flips have a positive expected value (EV), it is not significant in the long run. Worse still, the EV may be negative when you have dominated. Coin flips are risky and can cause you to lose a lot of chips.
Pot size can either grow or be kept small. Controlling cost size is one of the harder aspects of post-flop action. The pot size should be kept small when you are on a draw or even when you have a top pair, while still being adjusted for fold equity. When you are on a draw and are the first to act, you can use gambits such as blocking bets and timely checks. Blocking bets are the first bets that are less than that of your opponents, while timely checks are where you pretend to think for a while to cause a check from the other player.
Even when you have a top pair, it is still advisable to keep the pot small. You might end up being committed with your second best hand when the pot is too big, which will increase your risks of losing. Other than the bottom two, a total party kill loses the most money.
You will want to grow the pot after flopping a big hand that you wanted. However, you still need to be careful and predict what the other players will call. You can get your opponent to become pot-committed with about two-thirds or three-quarters of the pot on the flop and turn.
Even though overbetting may sometimes work, it is still a risky situation. You will need to read the game and the players very carefully and accurately to pull it off. Overbetting may cause your opponent to fold the worst hand. Do not let your greed and excitability cloud your judgment.
Before betting, take note of the cards that other players have. Stack size becomes even more important during critical situations such as a money bubble, where all but one player will walk away with the money. Stack size also determines the value of some cards. For example, small pairs and gunshots draw gain value for large stacks as they are disguised well and lose value for small stacks.
Exercise caution around big stacks as the player is more confident and will look you up with less. On the other hand, avoid bluffing when the stack size is small. The player is less likely to go for an all-in when he has called to see the flop.
Dealing with opponents
You should put players in a range of hands, instead of trying to imitate professionals like Daniel Negreanu and read your opponents’ hands. It is actually very difficult to pull off those kinds of made-for-TV feats in the real world. A better strategy would be to start with a range of hands that are appropriate for the action. Then, adjust your read with successive cards, or every time new information is made available. Each card that hits the board will diminish its value when you have flopped a made hand or started out best.
Strategizing well for post-flop action is just as important as pre-flop. In fact, veteran players are turning their attention to the nuances of post-flop action. Hence, it is never too late to pick up some tips and tricks that will allow you to improve your post-flop performance, regardless of whether you are a seasoned player or just starting out.