One area that I see many poker players struggle with is reading the flop. It is a skill that takes a lot of practice, I will admit. However, most players I watch play are either totally oblivious to the texture of the flop or they run away screaming from it. If you want to learn to play No Limit Texas Hold em successfully, this is a skill that you need to practice on a daily basis.
First, quit focusing on your cards and pay attention to the Flop. This is a tendency of novice players, but also of more experienced players as well. I know those pocket K’s look good, but if the flop comes Q-Q-5, then you may have a big problem.
Why? Over-cards are commonly played by the other players at the table. It is very likely, especially the more players who are still in the hand, that someone has one of the last 2 Q’s and you are in big trouble. Conversely, if the flop comes 4-4-9, then you are more likely still in the drivers seat with your pocket K’s because it is much less likely that someone is playing a hand that contains a 4 than they are a hand that contains a Q.
Flush and straight draws are the same way. You need to be aware, especially playing online that if the flop comes 9c-5c-6c, someone may already have you beat with a flush. Now, if one of your pocket K’s is a club, then you still have a good chance at this hand and should bet accordingly. However, if your K’s are red, you probably need to fold here. First, you should bet at the pot, to gain information, but in the face of a re-raise, you will need to shut down this hand. Many players have a hard time letting go of A-A or K-K. They will ride that high pocket pair to the end, even though that flush is staring them in the face. I have seen it many times. Do not be this player.
The other type of player is one that sees trouble behind every corner. They have probably been sucked out on many times, as is common in online Texas Hold em, and are now scared every time they have a big hand. I see it all the time: “I always get screwed with pocket K’s on this site.” ” My pocket A’s never hold up.” This is usually typed into the chat box after they have folded. Remember, a scary flop can be scary for both players and just because the flop came Ah-Th-3h, does not mean that your A-A or even K-K is already beat. Bet to gain information. You might find that everyone else folds quickly in the face of all those hearts, not having any themselves. You will not know unless you bet.
A good way to practice reading flop textures is to do so in the hands that you are not involved in. It is much easier to be an interested 3rd part sometimes than it is to analyze your own hand in the heat of battle. You need something to do in these hands anyway, you might as well work on your texture reading skills. You might find it easier than you though. If you really sit back and think about what the players still involved could be holding based on the way they bet certain textured flops, you can come closer to being right on than you think. It will help you when you are playing your own hand later on, that’s for sure.
Reading flop texture is a skill, and like any skill it must be practiced to be perfected. Work on this and you will find your play improves at a rapid rate.
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