Texas Holdem Flop, Turn, and River Play

Here are our strategy tips for No Limit Texas Hold’em flop, turn and river play.

It is tempting to be an optimist and hope for the turn or river to save us, but in most situations, we should fold if we don’t make a hand or a very good draw on the flop. Yes, we have all seen this situation from the other side – we have a nice hand post-flop, but it is ultimately beaten by someone who persisted with their poor hand and was saved by the river. But this isn’t the normal scenario; it is the exception. In most cases, the poor hand is not saved by the turn or by the river.

How to play high pocket pairs

If you have AA or KK as your start hand, you have a high pocket pair. This is a great start hand, but it can quickly lose value post-flop.

I didn’t get a set

poker acesIf the flop doesn’t turn your high pair into a high three of a kind, you will be in a rather bad situation.

If a lot of people are still in the pot post-flop, this is bad for your top pair. If you had managed to scare most people away pre-flop, there would have been few people left who might form good enough hands to beat your high pair.

My strategy here is to bet somewhere between 50% and 66% of the size of the pot if my pocket pair is AA. If an opponent raises, I fold my high pocket pair. This is especially true if there is a jack, queen or king on the table.

If my pocket pair is KK, I fold post-flop if there is a jack, queen or ace on the table. Otherwise, I bet between 50% and 66% of the size of the pot. If an opponent makes a raise, I fold.

So, what do I do if an opponent calls post flop? My first suspicion would be that this person is trying to slow play me. I will continue to play, but I will bet a very small amount on the turn. I will also check on the river, if possible.

I got a set!

If your high pair is turned into a set (three of a kind) by the board, then congratulations. This is a great hand. Now, your aim is to get your opponent to fill the pot with a lot of money. I usually pick one of these two strategies:

  • I make a small bet (roughly one third the size of the pot). My hope is for my opponent to make a raise.
  • I make a large bet. My hope is for my opponent to call.

If my opponent make a raise, a do a re-raise. It want to play aggressively.

If my opponent calls, a make bets on the turn and on the river that are so large that they get me all-in.

How to play pocket pairs that aren’t KK or AA

Regardless of which pocket pair you get as your start hand, the chance of it turning into a set (three of a kind) on the flop is 7.5 to 1.

I didn’t get a set

55If you have a pocket pair that isn’t KK or AA, and you don’t flop a set, your should fold in most situations.

There are however a few situations where you don’t fold. One of these is when you have an over pair to the board, you didn’t call a raise pre-flop, and there isn’t any flush or straight possibility on the board. If these conditions are fulfilled, then bet the size of the pot on the flop. Then, continue to bet roughly the same amount to the river. If you get raised by anyone, at any time, you should fold right away. Playing a pair post-flop is risky, so don’t hesitate to fold. Don’t commit a lot of money to the pot with this hand.

I called the raise before the flop and then I flopped a set

In this scenario, you have called a raise before the flop and then flopped a set. This is great, unless the board shows a flush or high card straight. If the board isn’t threatening, your goal is to get your opponent to build a big pot. Your opponent raised pre-flop, so don’t be surprised if he makes a large bet post-flop. Simply answer by re-raising, since you want to build up the pot. Three of a kind is a strong hand, even when it’s 2-2-2.

If your opponent calls your post flop raise, bet at least the size of the pot on the turn.

If you are raised, always re-raise. Don’t be afraid of getting all your money into the pot.

At the river, raise all-in. This is a hand where you need to take risks. Yes, you will lose sometimes, but in the long run, this aggressive strategy will pay off.

I didn’t call the pre-flop raise, but I did get a set on the flop

What you have here is a flopped set and a limped pot. Is there a flush or straight on the board? If not, you probably have the best hand and should play it aggressively. Since no one raised, it can prove tricky to get your opponent to commit a lot of money to the pot. You need to take a leap of faith and bet big. Hopefully, someone else will follow. If there is not flush or straight on the board, don’t hesitate to commit you entire stack.

How to play Ace + another suited card

In this scenario, your starting hand is an ace + another card that belongs to the same suit as the ace. Your main hope for this starting hand is to get a flush. If the other card is high, you can also play it for a straight.

  • Do not commit to any post-flop hand except flush / flush draw or full house / full house draw.
  • If you hit an ace on the flop, call an opponents bet only if the kicker is queen or higher. Top pair isn’t that great post-flop, so be careful. If you are in late position, you might wish to bet your top pair with the hope of scaring everyone else away and not taking the hand any further, but this is only advisable if you are in late position.If you get called, check and fold to any bet.

ace kingPlaying a Flush Draw

Flush is a hand where you need a lot of help from the board. Flushed boards are easy to spot, so most players will get weary and it is difficult to get well paid for a flush.

When you starting hand is ace + another card, any flush you make will be an ace-high flush which is nice.

When I find myself in this situation with a flush draw on the flop, I usually bet the size of the pot on the flop. My aim is to make the other players believe I have a pair rather than a flush draw.

  • If I’m raised on the flop, I call only if it is the minimum raise (twice my bet). If I don’t hit the flush on the turn, I will check and fold to any bet. Praying for the river to save me is not a good strategy.
  • If I’m called on the flop, I continue to bet as if I have top pair, until the river. My bet is exactly the same size as on the flop. If I don’t hit the flush on the turn, I will check and fold to any bet if I have two or more opponents. If I don’t hit the flush on the turn and have only one opponent, I put up one more bet if a believe that my opponent was drawing.

Playing a Flush Draw that turned into a Flush

As mentioned above, a lot of players can spooked when the board is showing a flush, and for good reasons. One way for you to handle this is to play as if you are afraid too. When your flush is complete, make a bet that is smaller than your previous bets. So, if you bet $4 on the flop, bet $2 on the turn. If you’re lucky, someone else has made a flush too and is willing to commit. Since the highest card in your flush is an ace, you will win over most flushes.

If someone challenges you (which is exactly what you want), call or re-raise. If you re-raise, your opponent will often believe that you are bluffing. If you call, your opponent may think that you have been slow playing and that you are beat by the flush.

  • Unless there the board pairs, you should go all-in on the river.
  • If the board pairs, there is a big risk of your opponent having a full house. If possible, just check. If just checking isn’t an option, call instead, with 10% of your stack.

How to play two cards within the T-A range

If you have a start hand that consists of two cards in the T-A range, your main hope is to flop a top pair with a good kicker or get a straight or straight draw.

A start hand that consists of two cards within the T-A range will usually fare better in multi-way pots than in heads-up pots.

I normally play this type of hand to take down small pots when I’m in late position, but sometimes I do get my hands on a big pot by making a straight or a full house. I do not commit to any hand except a nut straight.

How to play top pair

If a get a top pair when I’m in late position, I take a close look at my kicker and let it decide what to do next. If my kicker is not queen or higher, I will fold to any bet. Yes, in many cases this means that I fold the best hand, but the pot is small and my odds are poor in these scenarios, so it’s the best strategy when playing No Limit Texas Hold’em. My main strategic goal when playing NL Texas Hold’em is to bring home the huge pots with my monster hands, so chasing after any old top pair just isn’t my thing.

If I have a top pair and no one has bet ahead of me on the flop, I usually bet the size of the pot. If anyone raises, I fold right away. If I only get called, I place the same size bet to the river, unless a flush, straight or pair board comes along. Of course, the reason why I’m only getting called might be that someone is slow playing me. If my opponent makes a big raise on the river, I’ve most likely been slow played.

How to play the open ended straight draw

I will call a bet with an open ended straight draw if these four requirements are fulfilled:

A.) I am drawing to the nuts, i.e. best possible straight

B.) The board does not have three suited cards.

C.) The board is not paired.

D.) My odds are good enough.

All four of these conditions must be met for me to call a bet with an open ended straight draw. Three or less just isn’t enough for me. The situation must be so good for me that I’m comfortable with going all-in if necessary.

The reason behind my first requirement (A) is pretty obvious. It don’t want to make a straight only to have it beaten by a better straight.

The reason for requirement B and C is that my straight will be useless if my opponent has a flush or a full house.

So, what about requirement D? This is a bit more complicated. If I am holding a straight draw while in late position I have the advantage of knowing the cost. I will only call an amount that is no more than 1/3 of the money in the pot. So, if my opponent bets $3 there must be at least $9 in the pot for me to call. This is to ensure that I make enough money in the long run when I do win the pot in these situations.

I’ve made my straight!

If your straight draw turns into a straight, you should get all your money into the pot as quickly as possible, unless the board is paired or flushed.