Quiz: How’s Your Play on the Flop? (Part 1)
This quiz is designed to illustrate some of the more important concepts that govern winning play on the flop. Here’s your chance to put some of your play analysis skills to work so when you answer the questions, we recommend you put some thought into why you are choosing a particular answer and compare your answers with the analysis that follows.
1. You have 8c 7c in the big blind. An early position player raises, two players call, and the small blind folds. You call. The flop comes Js 9c 4s. You should:
b. check and call
c. check and fold
d. check and raise
2. You have As 3s in the small blind. A middle position player raises, and four players call. You call and big blind calls. The flop comes Ah 9c 5s. You should:
b. check and call
c. check and fold
d. check and raise
3. You have As Kd on the button. There are two early position callers and the player on your right raises. You make it three bets. The small blind folds and everyone else calls. The flop comes Ks 7s 4d. All check to the player on your right who bets. You should:
c. call the bet with the intention of raising on the turn
d. call the bet with the intention of calling the turn and river
4. You have As Ad on the button. There are two early position callers and the player on your right raises. You make it three bets. The small blind folds and everyone else calls. The flop comes Js 7s 4d. All check to the player on your right who bets. You should:
c. call with the intention of raising the turn
d. call with the intention of calling the turn and river.
5. You have 9h 9c in early position. One person calls, and you call. All fold to the button who raises. Both of the blinds call, the other early position player calls, and you call. The flop comes 9s 6h 4h. You should:
b. check with the intention of raising
c. check with the intention of calling, and betting the turn
d. check with the intention of calling, and check raising (or lead betting) the turn
1. Answer: C. You have a gutshot draw and a back door flush draw, which gives you about a 22% chance of improving to a strong hand by the river. But notice that any ten could give someone a higher straight, and that the hand that would make this higher straight—namely, KQ—is a hand that many players will call a raise with. Thus, the odds of this hand actually being out are probably slightly higher than usual. Also, the Ts could be a disaster. Even if the pre-flop raiser bets and everyone calls you’re only getting about 11:1 on the call, which isn’t all that much of an overlay.
2. Answer: This is a toughie, as you could make a case for all four options. Betting is OK here, so long as you feel you could comfortably call the raise and fold on the turn if you check, there’s a bet and a 3 didn’t drop on the turn. Otherwise you’re looking for one of the other three options. Typically, I check in this spot. If the pre-flop raiser bets and two other players call I might fold, since I have to worry about my kicker. If the pre-flop raiser bets and only one (or no) players call I’ll either check raise the flop or call the flop bet and lead out on the turn (with the intention of folding if I’m raised). If any of your opponents are maniacs you’re probably going to have to show this hand down, which means folding at any spot is out of the question. If your opponents are reasonable, however, the above technique should yield the information you need in order for you to play the hand well.
3. Answer: A or C. Well, ‘b’ and ‘d’ are out of the question. That leaves you with ‘a’ and ‘c’. I’d probably raise here. The argument for ‘c’ is that the player to your right will bet again on the turn, thereby giving you a chance to raise the turn and charge the field two big bets to continue with the hand. However, if you raise here he’ll probably check the turn, and you’ll only have the opportunity to charge the field one big bet on the turn. The idea is that your flop raise won’t get anyone out of the pot (since the pot is getting huge), but that a turn raise will get them out.
This logic is fine, and it works perfectly if the man on your right will bet the turn no matter what. But players like that don’t grow on trees (instead, they grow in a pond). If the player on your right has something like QQ, or JJ, he might check the turn because of the king on board. This means you won’t have the opportunity to raise him on the turn, and your play is essentially ruined. By raising on the flop you’re basically announcing that you’ve flopped big; this makes it less likely that someone will ‘make a play’ at you on the turn (by check raising you, or by lead betting) if a scare card comes, since they’ll figure you’re going to the river with your big hand anyway. In a spot like this you want people to play their hands in a fairly straightforward manner from here on out, since anyone who gets ‘tricky’ might convince you to fold the best hand. This is a mistake you don’t want to make in a big pot.
4. Answer: A or C. As with the previous hand, ‘b’; and ‘d’ are simply not options you should consider. Now in the last hand I recommended raising. But things have now changed. With a jack high board it’s much more likely that your opponent has a hand that he thinks is best (something like QQ, or AJ) which is actually in deep doo-doo. This makes it that much more likely that he’ll bet the turn. Further, a call by you here screams “I have AK”, since most players will just call -but not raise- with two big overcards if they put in the last raise pre-flop and are bet into on a flop that missed them. Since your opponents will think you have AK here they’ll be much more inclined to bet the turn with either the second best hand, or even next to nothing, in the hopes that they’ll get you to fold. Of course, when you suddenly spring to life on the turn they’ll have to rethink things. But by then it will be too late, since you’ll have accomplished your objective; i.e., forcing the rest of the field to call two big bets.
Many, many players will insist that raising here is optimal. And, truth be told, you can make an argument for that. But it’s important to understand that when you’re raising for the purpose of getting people to fold (and this is usually your primary objective when the pot gets big), there’s no sense in raising when anyone who would call one bet will call two, and anyone who will fold for two bets would also fold for one. In a case like this you’re not going to get anyone to fold who wasn’t already planning to do so, which means one of your main reasons for raising has been eliminated. Thus, if you think that by just calling here you can entice your opponent into betting the turn, and you think that the rest of the field will think twice about calling two bets on the turn with a marginal hand, you should strongly consider delaying your raise until after the turn card drops.
5. Answer: A. Bet your hand. Notice that if the pre-flop raiser raises your bet (and he will raise if he has an overpair), the rest of the field is going to be looking at calling two bets cold. As with the last example, there’s no guarantee that anyone who has a hand that you’d like to see fold will in fact fold for two bets. However, because of your position relative to the pre-flop raiser, there’s no obvious way to be sure the rest of the field will be forced to call two bets cold on the turn if you just check and call the flop. If you call the flop, then lead bet the turn, the pre-flop raiser may just call your turn bet with a hand as big as an overpair, since he may be afraid that you’ve slowplayed a monster (which in fact you have). If you were on the pre-flop raiser’s left, you could make an argument of just calling a flop bet with the intention of raising a turn bet, since in this scenario you could force the field to call two bets cold. But that’s not the case here.
A good rule of thumb is this: If the player who is most likely to have a quality hand is on your right, you can consider just calling on the flop with the intention of raising the turn. If, however, that player is on your left, you usually can’t consider this play, since you can’t be sure he’ll raise on the turn for you if you bet the turn. Also, notice that in this case you’re in great shape if the pre-flop raiser raises your flop bet. You’ve got the nuts right now (always a nice spot to be in), and if either of the blinds or the other early position player calls the pre-flop raiser’s flop raise you’ll be able to then make it three bets, thereby charging them a small fortune to continue with their goofy draws. Almost anytime you can get three bets into the pot on the flop with a big hand you should do so, as there’s no guarantee that everyone will be as in love with their hands on the turn as they are on the flop. As we have mentioned in previous lessons, the whole idea behind poker is to charge your opponents as much as possible to continue with their hands when you have a big holding.
HOW DID YOU DO?
Congratulations! You’ve got a good grasp of the fundamental concepts that are required for successful play on the flop. If you not only answered the questions correctly but also understand why each correct answer applies, take this solid knowledge base and keep going! Take the second flop quiz and consider some of the recommended reading which will provide you with even more in-depth analysis.
This was a deliberately hard quiz designed to show you all the considerations that an advanced player will make on the flop. If you answered three questions correctly you’re likely on the right track. Just make sure you understand the analysis. Go back and review some of the earlier lessons if you feel you need to. Then move on to the second flop quiz.
If you answered 1 or 2 of these questions correctly, we encourage you to look over the explanations of the correct answers carefully. Note how your position in the hand, the size of the pot, and the previous actions of your fellow players greatly affect your decisions. Review these concepts and try taking the quiz again thinking through your answers carefully.
Take heart, tadpole. Maybe you’re used to an unprofitable playing style and are having a hard time making the transition. Or perhaps you just need to read through the lessons more carefully. Don’t fret, you’ll get there.