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Raising On The Flop

  The first thing that you should know about raising on the pre flop raises is that it is not going to force out any player who flopped any kind of hand at all or any kind of flush or straight draw.  No low limit player is going to throw his hand away if he flopped a four-flush, an open-end straight draw, an inside straight draw, a set, two split pair, an overpair, or has a pair in the pocket.

  Many low limit players will flop absolutely nothing and they will call to see the turn card just to see if they can pick up a straight or flush draw.  For example, a player holds 8♦ 7♦ and the flop is A ♦ 6♠ 2♥.  He has absolutely nothing, but one of twenty-two cards will give him a straight or a flush to draw to (ten diamonds, three T’s, three 5’s and three 4’s).  This gives him an incredible 46.8% chance of picking up a draw on the turn even though he has nothing on the flop.
  Using the table of Drawing Odds From a Deck of 47 Unseen Cards on page 204, you can see that he then has a 19.6% chance of completing his flush and a 17.4% chance of making the straight draw.  Even though this is a bad play, once he does pick up the draw on the turn, it’s the same thing as if he had the draw on the flop but missed on the turn.  The difference is that he will have to pay see the turn without a draw if he wants to play like this and that’s where you’ll make your money.
  Again, make opponents pay to draw out on you.  All you’re doing when you raise on the flop is building a pot, even though your intention is to give them the wrong odds to play.  You’ll just have to take your ad Beats in stride, knowing that you will be a poker winner in the long run.
  You should definitely raise and reraise if you flop top pair with top kicker and think you have the best hand at that point.  You are a 2 to 1 favorite against any single straight or flush draw and a 4 to 1 favorite over any other player who has top pair with a weaker kicker than you do.  Don’t let them draw out on you for free.  This is the most common situation in Hold’em when you flop a split pair.  You hold something like A ♦ Q ♥ and the flop is Q ♠ T ♦ 5 ♣.  You have top pair with top kicker and you’re usually a favorite to win the hand.

  A side benefit to playing your hand like this is that when there is also a flush draw on the board, your opponents won’t know which of the two hands you have; the top pair or the flush draw.  This little bit of doubt in their minds helps you because you’ll be called slightly more often on the river when the flush card does not come.

  If your opponent knew you flopped top pair then he wouldn’t have to call on the river if he knows he can’t beat it.  But, if he thinks you might have had a flush draw and missed, and he can beat that, then he’ll call you more often on the river.  The possible flush draw raises the possibility that you missed and could bluffing.  And all of this just because of one little raise on the flop.
  There is one situation in the above example that you should be wary of.  That is when you flop top pair with top kicker and there is a bet, a raise, a rerasie and another rerasie, all on the flop.  I want to tell you for a fact that you are positively beat at this point and you’re probably drawing dead.

  Using the above example, it very likely that someone flopped a set of Queens, Tens or Fives, or someone has flopped two pair; Queens and Tens.  There is also a good chance that someone has a pair of Aces or Kings in the pocket.  And you have to be especially careful if one of the raisers is in the blind.  He could have anything , got a miracle flop and is now betting to protect it.
  Look at it this way: for you to have the best hand at this point, they would have to be doing all of this betting and raising with less than a pair of Queens with an Ace kicker.  Ask yourself, “Would they be doing all of this betting and raising if they couldn’t even beat a pair of Queens with an Ace kicker (or whatever your hand is)”?  If the answer is “No” then you should throw your hand away, even if you only have to call one more bet to see the next card.

  Another time to raise on the flop is if you suspect the pre-flop raiser has Ace-King and has missed on the flop, which will happen 73% of the time.  One way to tell if he missed on the flop is if, in your mind, he bet it out too fast on the flop.  If he actually did have pocket Aces or Kings, he’d have to take a second to look at the flop to figure out all the possible draws and how the flop affects his hand.  But, since he’s already decided he’s going to bet regardless of what the flop is, he doesn’t need any time to decide what to do, does he?
  Since it’s often correct for him to bet one time even when he misses, you would like to find out what he’s got while the bets are still relatively cheap.  A raise here will often win the pot outright if he does have the Ace-King.  If you only call on the flop, you are giving him an uncontested chance to pick up an Ace or King on the turn or river to possibly beat you.
  Remember that three out of four times that a low limit poker player raises pre-flop, he does  not have a pair in the pocket.  If you are reraised, you should probably give him credit for the overpair and muck your hand since it now appears that you are the underdog.
  Another common reason to raise on the flop is to get a free card if you are on a draw.  Actually, you are not really getting a free card. What you are getting is a cheap card.  This is how it works: you are in late position with A ♥ 8♥ and the flop is K ♥ 7♥ 5♣.  There is a bet from an early position and you get four callers.  When it gets to you, you raise and everybody calls.  From this point, the hand is going to turn out one of two ways, and they are both profitable for you:
1st Scenario:  Your raise on the flop indicates that you have a good hand.  Everyone gives in to the temptation to “check to the raiser” and that’s what happens on the turn.  The turn cards not help you and you also check.  The river card is not a flush card (you missed you ♥ draw) and you don’t call on the river if there’s bet.  You got to see the turn and river card for free (actually it cost $4 ) and you did not have to pay to draw to your hand.  Raising to get a free card saved you a total of $ 16 ($ 8 on both the turn and river).  You got to draw two cards to the nut hand without having to pay for the privilege.
2nd Scenario:  The turn card is a flush card.  You now have a ♥ flush and the nuts at this point.  You bet and get called on both the turn and the river.  You win the hand and your raise on the flop got $ 4 more from four other players that would not have been in the pot if you had not raised.  In other words, you got in an extra bet with a winning hand.
Whether you win the hand or not, your raise on the flop saves you money if you miss your hand, and it makes you more money when you win the starting hand.  It’s a win-win situation.  If you have trouble imagining this. Try this simple exercise.  Give yourself A ♠ J ♠ and put K ♠ 8♠ 4♥ up as the flop.

Give yourself and four imaginary opponents thirty chips each for each of the following examples- A, B, C and D.  You’re going to perform four exercises and write down on a piece of paper how many chips you are left with at the end of each one.

  • Put $ 2 from each stack into the pot to represent everyone’s call before the flop.  You get the same flop as above and when it’s your turn to call, you raise and everyone else calls.  Now put $ 8 from each stack in the pot to represent this bet and raise with everyone calling.  The turn card is not a flush card but you call the $ 8 bet along with everyone else.  Put $ 8 in the pot from each player’s stack.  The river card is not a flush card and you have to fold.  Award the pot to a player and record how many chips you have.
  • Put two chips in the pot from each of the five stacks of chips.  This represents everyone’s call before the flop.  Now you get the above flop and everyone calls $ 4.  Put $ 4 from each stack into the pot.  The turn card is not a ♠ but there is a bet and everyone calls.  Put $ 8 from each stack into the pot.  The river card is not a ♠ and you have to fold.  Award the pot to any of the imaginary players you choose.  Now, count the remainder of your chips and write that number on the piece of paper in front of you.
  • Put $ 2 from each stack into the pot to represent everyone’s call before the flop.  You get two spades on the flop and when there’s a bet, you just call.  Put $ 4 from each stack into the pot.  The turn card doesn’t help but you call on the turn anyway.  Put $ 8 in the pot from each stack.  The ricer is 2 ♠ and when it’s checked around, you bet and everyone calls.  You win the hand and enter the number of chips you now have on your paper.
  • Put $ 2 from each stack in the pot to represent everyone’s call before the flop poker.  The flop has two flush cards and when it’s your turn to call the bet, you raise and everyone calls.  Put $ 8 in the pot from each stack.  The turn card does not help you but everyone calls.  Put $ 8 more in the pot from each stack.  The river is 2♠ and you now have the nut flush.  Everyone checks and calls when you bet.  You win the pot and enter the number of chips you have.

Notice that you have more money in your stack with each succeeding exercise and that you save the most money when you raise and miss.  And of course, you make the most money when you raise and make it.
  As you can see, raising and missing is actually cheaper for you than just calling and missing.  It’s no big surprise that you make more money when you raise on the draw and make it.  The surprise is that you save more money when you raise and miss.  Try it, you’ll like it.
  Players will raise on the flop for a variety of reasons but they will rarely raise when they flop a monster hand in a pot they really expect to win.  Most typical low limit players will wait for the turn, when the bets double, to raise or reraise.  (This is not true of high limit players.)  They don’t want to give away their hands on the flop for only one extra small bet.  This is especially true when a pre-flop raiser just calls when an Ace or King comes on the flop, but raises on the turn.  This play strongly suggests that he has a set of Aces or Kings and slowplayed it on the flop.

  For this reason, a player who does raise on the flop is less likely to end up with a full house.  When he does raise on the flop, he usually will not have the two pair or trips that it takes to improve to a full house.  An exception would be if the raiser was in the blind, in which case you’d better be prepared for any type of hand on the river.
  If there are many callers on the flop and you have a straight draw, you should usually not raise if there is a two-flush on the flop.  Any player who flopped a four-flush is not going to fold anyway because he knows he’ll make the flush one time in three.  You don’t lose that much by just calling or even folding with a straight draw.
  In summary, the flop is when most players decide to either muck their hands or play to the river.  A raise from you will help get out the undecided players and further reduce the number of players who see the turn to draw out on you.  An extra $ 4 bet now could, and often, will win you the pot at the end.

Playing on the Turn
  If you’ve decided to see the turn card, you probably know exactly what you need to win and what the odds of making it are.  Chances are, you’ve also decided to see the river card in the event you missed your draw on the turn.  If you have top pair or make two pair on the turn, you will usually bet and raise to protect your hand to make the draws pay.  There are a few other miscellaneous things you need to know about playing on the turn:

  • Checking on the Turn

    When you check on the turn, you are in effect, giving your opponents not one, but two free cards.  They can check with you and then get a look at the river card before they have to put any money into the pot.  This really reduces your odds of winning pot.  There are many times when neither you nor your opponent has a decent hand but his is just slightly better.  He may have a garbage hand that he wouldn’t call for two cents, let alone $ 8 or more.  But since you didn’t bet you are really forfeiting with the best hand.  If you have anything at all, especially if a sole opponent checks to you, you should bet.

  • If You Are First If you are first and are checking and calling because you’re drawing to a straight or a flush, you should usually bet it out when you make the hand.  That is, you should go ahead and bet into the player you previously checked to.  It is critical that you play it this way for two very important reasons:
  • Now that you have the best hand you should make them pay to beat you.  Getting second-best hands to pay you off when you have the winning hand is the essence of all forms of poker.
  • If you check, you risk losing bets when you have the best hand and players check behind you.  A good exception would be if you know, based on your poker experience and judgment, that the player on your left will bet and you can therefore check-raise.  More about check-raising later in this chapter.

Another time to check when you make your hand on the turn, is  when you think that by checking, a player will bet into you but that player would not even call if you bet.  In other words, you should check if you think it will induce a bluff from a player who would not call if you bet.  There’s more about bluffing later in this chapter, also.