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The Flop: Getting Started

In short, when playing any one of the community cards games such as; Texas Hold’em or Omaha, the term Flop refers to: the point at the commencement of the game when all bets are equal, the initial pot is formed and the game turns to the next round. During the Flop, three Community cards are dealt face up to be used by all the players. The player who posted the small blind begins this betting round and, when all bets are equal, the game moves to the next round.

One of the most important decisions a player makes during the game of Texas Hold’em is deciding whether to see the flop with your first two cards. Each time a player is dealt a hand, they have to choose if they will play or toss. Most player harbor hopes of coming out of the game financially better, that is why they have to consider the investment that has been made the pot. It’s a decision you have to make each time you’re dealt a hand.

Strategically preparing to take full advantage of the hand prior to the “Flop” or “Pre-Flop” if you will in Hold’em is regarded the key to success. This is accomplished by putting yourself in situations offering favorable pot odds. Then the player should play more aggressively either to get more money in the pot or to eliminate competition when you have a big hand.

Your Starting Cards:

As mentioned previously, the hand you receive at the start of many games may leave a lot for the imagination; besides what can you really expect to find in two cards that are dealt to you? If you have the luck you’ll be dealt a pair. If there are no pairs in your hands, the cards will be either suited or not. They may also be consecutive or not. If you receive cards that are not playable, then you get left waiting because sometimes they come up; a wise player will stop there. Remember how important patience is and be observant to the community cards as they are dealt. If a player who acts before you raises, you need to sharpen up and throw away many of the hands you’d play if the pot had not been raised.

Getting Stuck in Uncomfortable Situations:

Players of all levels sometimes experience uncomfortable predicaments that spawn from uncertainty about how to play an own hand, or how to respond to the tactics or game-play of another player. Now, put yourself into the same predicament a see what you would do, when you’re dealt a medium or big pair in an early position? If you get dealt a killer hand with pairs of face cards or loaded with Aces; would you feel that you ought to raise, or re-raise if the pot was raised in front of you? This could be a dilemma for those who are new to the game or do not have the calmness that is required. Look at this scenario and think what you might do: If you are the first player in, would you raise with any pair of tens or higher? Or would you hesitate and wait for a better hand?

The game of Poker is a game of skill and patience, if you are too patient you may win or lose but that is the game. If the game is too uncomfortable, try adding some deception to your game, raise with any pair of sevens or higher and keep your opponents off guard. A simple thing like being unpredictable may add mystic to your poker persona and raise your comfort level.

Playing With Pairs:

Playing with pairs is like every other hand, it has its time and place. Starting with the Small Pairs (the 2’s – 6’s) these should not be played in all situations. There are several factors that determine whether you should enter a pot with a small pair such as: position, chip count, number of players, and cost to play.   In games that play with a higher card count, playing with small pairs just will not pay. Then there are the games that only have a few opponents, and playing small pairs generally will not fare so well.

When you do play medium pocket pairs, your main goal is to flop a set. These hands are especially vulnerable because there are many over-cards to your pair.  The Medium Pair is perhaps one of the toughest starting hands in Hold’em games to play. Then again anyone that tells you to just fold your medium pairs is not providing you with good advice.  The best time to play a medium pair would be when you are in late position and getting good pot odds. During the larger games your medium pair can pay off if you can hit a set (getting 3 of a kind).

If you have the luck with you and are dealt a big pair, try to eliminate as many of the other players as possible so your hand will be sufficient to take the pot.

When Someone Raises in Front of You:

A smart player should welcome a raise ahead of theirs if they hold a big pair before the flop. When these raises are made that means that the pot is going to be that much larger. Part of a Smart Poker Players goal is collective pot management, i.e. working the total as high as possible with the hopes of winning. One good tactical move at this point would be to re-raise and try to eliminate some of your opponents. All but the truest card player as well as anyone holding a premium hand will think twice about the value of their hand as the raises come from around the table. When you are playing Big Pairs the best option you have is to play them against fewer but at the same time attracting as many bets as you can.

Although your playing style may be yet to be established you need to be extremely versatile during game-play. At certain point you must remain highly selective about the game and the hands being dealt but you also need to play aggressively when the hands present themselves. Less experienced players are commonly making the mistake of playing only their own hands and this can prove costly especially against beginners and low-limit players. Here again being observant of the game-play of your opponents and their hands will enhance your odds at winning the game.