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Texas Hold'em No Limit Intermediate

Playing on the Flop

18,654 Views on 3/7/12

A beginner foundation for winning post flop poker strategy.

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Flop Strategy Guide

You should already have a good idea about which hands you are opening from which positions. We are going to think about how we should proceed on the flop by considering some basic strategy.


Cbetting” or continuation-betting is a term you will hear used frequently throughout your poker career. But what does it mean exactly?

  • Any time the pre-flop raiser decides to continue his aggression by betting on the flop, it is referred to as a continuation-bet. C-betting is very common in today’s games. In general there are two types of c-betting strategies
  • Quantity C-betting – These players continuation bet on a wide variety of different flops regardless of whether they hit or miss. Their hope is to take the pot down when they miss and extract some value when they hit.
  • Quality C-betting – These players are more cautious and only c-bet with made hands or hands that have connected with the flop in some way. If they miss, they usually just check.

So which of these two c-betting strategies should you follow?

Well...it's all Villain Dependant...

Unlike the majority of players who just stick to one strategy, a good player will be varying his strategy depending on his opponent. The general principle behind c-betting strategy is simple.

“Use a quantitative c-betting strategy against players who fold too much, and use a qualitative c-betting strategy against players who call too much.”

What if we are the one facing a c-bet? After all we won’t always be the pre-flop aggressor.

“Against quantitative c-betters play back more often, against qualitative c-betters wait for stronger hands.”

If our opponent is betting a very wide range of different hands on the flop (i.e quantitative) it makes him vulnerable to things like bluff-raises or floats. It also means our weak-made hands are more likely to be good, seeing as our opponent will happily c-bet with air.


Perhaps the easiest way to gauge our opponent’s c-betting tendencies is by using a HUD. These are the relevant stats

  • CbetFlop% - % of times a player has c-bet the flop given the opportunity
  • FoldToCbetFlop% - % of times a player folded when facing a c-bet on the flop.


Depending on the observations we make about your opponents, we will choose one of two general overall strategies. Passive or aggressive. We should know which of these 2 strategies we are following before we invest chips in the pot. It’s often said that aggression is key to playing winning poker, but in some situations being passive is the only correct option.

MP ($25)  CO ($25) UTG ($25) BB ($25) SB ($25)  BU ($25) (78/5/0.4/0) (VPIP/ PFR/ AF/ FtCbet)

Pre-flop: Hero is CO with 56

2folds, Hero raises to $0.75, BU calls $0.75, SB folds, BB folds.

Flop: ($1.85) k32 - 2 players

Hero checks, BU checks

  • Thispokerimage is a situation where ordinarily it might be a good idea to fire a continuation bet. The board is quite dry, we should expect to get folds reasonably often. Also we have a gut-shot straight draw and a backdoor flush draw. Against most opponents we should take the aggressive approach here.
  • Why not against this particular opponent? Firstly look at his stats. He has a VPIP of 78 and a PFR of 5. There is a decent chance this player is a huge fish. Also look at his fold-to-cbet…..0. This guy doesn’t fold flops - period. Seeing as we have 6-high we rarely have the best hand even against a 78% starting range. Since our opponent is never folding to a cbet, aggression doesn’t make sense. We choose to take a passive line and check.

Donk Betting / Check-raising

Two more useful stats for gauging our opponent’s flop tendencies:

1) DonkBetFlop - %of the time opponent has donk-bet the flop given the opportunity.

(A donk bet is when the pre-flop caller bets out into the original raiser before he gets a chance to c-bet.)

2) CheckRaiseFlop - % of the time an opponent check-raises the flop when facing a bet.

(Against aggressive opponents who check-raise a lot of flops, you should cbet less in general)

Consider the following 2 hands:

Hand 1

MP ($25)  CO ($25) UTG ($25) BB ($25) SB ($25)  BU ($25) (18/15/4) (VPIP/ PFR/ DonkBetFlop)

Pre-flop: Hero is BU with q9

3folds, Hero raises to $0.75, SB folds, BB calls $0.50.

Flop: ($1.65) k105 - 2 players

BB bets $0.85, Hero folds.

Hand 2

MP ($25)  CO ($25) UTG ($25) BB($25) SB ($25)  BU($25) (38/15/82) (VPIP/ PFR/ DonkBetFlop)

Pre-flop: Hero is BU with q9

3folds, Hero raises to $0.75, SB folds, BB calls $0.50.

Flop: ($1.65) k105 - 2 players

BB bets $0.85, Hero raises to $2.50

So....Why did hero decide to raise in the second hand but fold in the first?

  • In the first hand villain looked like a tight regular (18/15) and had an extremely low donk-flop stat of 4%. It’s likely he has a set. Hero could consider calling if he felt he had good enough implied-odds (see article on “implied-odds”), but in all likelihood it won’t be profitable. Hero opts to take a passive strategy here because he knows his opponent’s range is strong.
  • The second example is identical, except for our opponent. The stats (38/15) suggest this player could be weak, and the donk-flop stat of 82% is extremely high. This player is donk-betting most of the hands he called pre-flop, and a lot of these may have missed the flop. Hero could think about flat-calling with his gut-shot, but since villain’s range is weak in general, this is an excellent spot for a semi-bluff raise. (See the article on semi-bluffing for further information.) Hero chooses an aggressive strategy.

Other Situations

We have focused mainly on heads up situations; the majority of hands you play will be heads up on the flop. You will find yourself in multi-way pots and limped pots from time to time which will be discussed in other articles. To continue reading about flop play, check out some of the more advanced articles in the intermediate section



I am of British nationality and go by the online alias w34z3l. I am considered one of the top consultants in the field for technical analysis (i.e. database work) and application of game theory concepts to various card games. I make a ... Read More


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