In modern poker, aggression is generally a good thing. But what about when you flop a monster hand like a flush? What is the optimal way to play? Should it be full steam ahead, or is there any justification for slowplaying? Let’s discuss the subject and find out.
How Likely Is Flopping A Flush?
The odds of flopping a flush are pretty small, which is probably why it feels so good. In Texas Hold’em, with two suited cards, you will make your flush on the flop just 0.80% of the time. That’s odds of 118 to 1.
Making that flush right away obviously leaves you in a very strong position. So what should you do?
Consider Your Position
As with any poker scenario, you should first think about your position in the hand. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Out Of Position
When out of position, always check the flop.
In modern poker, players almost always check to the preflop raiser. So if you were the one who called a preflop raise, doing anything different in this spot just seems unusual. But above all, you should check to keep your range as wide as possible.
If you bet out with most of your made flushes in this scenario, what do you have when you are checking? It makes your regular checking range look extremely weak. If you can’t have a made flush in your range, you must only be checking with poor hands, leaving you vulnerable to aggressive, exploitative bets.
Check-Raise Or Check-Call?
Having checked the flop, what should you do when the preflop raiser makes a continuation bet? Mix up your check-calls with check-raises.
This is about balancing your range. If you always check-raise for value in these situations where you flop a made flush, your opponents can exploit you.
They know that you have the flush when you raise, so they can bin anything where they are beaten and go to town with their monster hands that beat you. When you call, they can safely assume that you do not have the flush, therefore pushing their value bets or even getting outright bluffs through.
So when should you look to check-call and mix things up? Smaller flushes seem like a good choice. If you are holding something like 8-9 on a board that is Jack high, for instance, then your opponent is more likely to be holding an offsuit A, K, or Q. That’s just the type of hand you want them to have as they are likely to try and bluff.
What If I Raised Preflop?
Remember, when out of position, you should always check the flop when making your flush. If you raised preflop, it wouldn’t matter. Check it to your opponent and look to call some of the time and raise others.
Betting out in this situation weakens your checking range and leaves you vulnerable to exploitation. It’s exactly like if you were the one calling the raise preflop.
When in position, if you were the preflop aggressor, check back a lot of the time.
The vast majority of players are going to check to the player who raised preflop. When it comes to you, it doesn’t usually make a lot of sense to make the continuation bet. Once again, this is about protecting your checking range.
By frequently betting out with such a strong hand, an observant player will see that you don’t have the flush in your checking range. So when you check in the future, they can push their marginal hands a lot harder, knowing that you’ll have to fold.
The right flushes to check back would also be the smaller ones, for the same reasons mentioned above. You don’t block your opponent’s main bluffing hands. But don’t forget, you do still need to balance your own range. Don’t just check back every single flopped flush.
Flopping A Flush Against Passive Players
As with most poker scenarios, there are exceptions to the general rule. It’s important to factor in who your opponents are at all times. If you find yourself in a game against aggressive players, learn how to counter them in “How to Counter Aggressive Players at the Poker Table”. However, if, for instance, you’re playing against a complete calling station that you know is never going away, you’ll make more in the long run by just leading out.
This is especially true in online micro-stakes games. Players just don’t like to fold, so make them pay when you flop a monster hand such as a flush. Not only will slowplaying cost you additional money in such games, but it increases the likelihood of being outdrawn. After all, not every flopped flush is created equally.
If you’re holding mid-sized suited connectors, such as 8-7 on a board of K-Q-2, there are still some hands that can beat you. Perhaps your opponent has the Ace high flush draw, for instance. Make these passive players pay to draw while balancing out your bluffing range at the same time.
When flopping a flush, how you play it very much depends upon the quality of your opponents. Either way, you should generally look to shy away from outright slowplaying. (Note: The same applies to when you flopped an open-ended straight draw)
We’ve spoken a lot about checking the flop. But only with the intention of check-raising for value, or check-calling and protecting your checking range. From the turn onwards, you can ramp up the aggression.
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