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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Going Uphill on the Flop in Texas Hold'em

23 September 2005

If you had your way in Texas Hold'em, you'd flop the lead hand every time you played. When you're holding A/K, you'd love to see an Ace or a King flop. If you've got pocket deuces, you'd be thrilled if a deuce hit the board.

But let's be realistic. Lots of times, even though you played a pretty good starting hand, you know you're trailing on the flop. I'm not talking about the times you missed the flop altogether, like when you have 7/7 and the flop comes K/J/9. Instead, what if you have something like:

10d/Jd

and the flop comes:

As – Kc – 3h

If there's a bet and a call, you know somebody's made a pair of Aces or Kings. You've got no pair and no "overcards" (cards higher than the board). But you do have a "gut-shot" (inside) straight draw. Is your hand worth calling a bet on this longshot prospect?

Well, the gut-shot Queen will come on the "turn" (fourth board card) one time in 12. In limit Hold'em, the flop bet is still at the lower level. At $5/$10 stakes, for example, the bets before the flop and on the flop are $5. The turn and the "river" (last card) bets are $10. It often works out that there's enough profit potential to pay $5, trying to snag that magic Queen on the turn. Here's the rationale.

Let's say four players paid $5 apiece to see the flop. That's $20 in the pot so far. Now maybe three of you pay another $5 on the flop to see the turn card. That puts $30 in the middle, not counting your own $5 call.

Eleven times out of twelve, the turn card won't be a Queen and you'll fold, losing $55 on your eleven misses. That twelfth time when the Queen does come, you'll likely earn two or three $10 bets on the turn between calls and possible raises. Then at the river you can probably get one, maybe two more $10 calls. That puts your net profit at around $70 the one time you make your straight.

As always, there can be several damaging caveats to this scenario. The first would be if it costs more than one $5 call to see the turn. That would cut your "pot odds" in half and destroy the value of your call. Therefore, only make this call from late position where you can see that it won't get raised after the initial $5 flop bet.

Another killer would be if the flop contained two suited cards, such as the 3 of spades rather than hearts. Now you might make your straight and still end up losing to a flush. So don't make this gut-shot call when there's a flush draw out there.

And last but not least, don't call if there's already a pair on the flop, since you could make your straight and lose to a full house at the river.

Now what if instead of A-K-3, the flop was say, A-7-3 with one diamond? You'd no longer have any straight potential -- but now you have a "back door" (need two running diamonds) flush draw? Unfortunately, back door flushes come in only 1 time out of 24 and you'll virtually never be getting good enough pot odds to stay in when that's all you have. So just give that one up every time.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey