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Should You Go On? The Flop

Texas Hold’em, in all three varieties (No Limit, Pot Limit and Limit) is, like all poker games, about making the right call. Not calling a bet, but making the right decision. The first decision is whether or not you should stay in the hand to the Flop, the point in the game where the dealer lays out the first three of five community cards. The second decision, if you couldn’t guess, is deciding if you are going to hang around after the flop.

After the flop hits you have seen five out of seven possible cards. The odds of your hand improving go down dramatically after the flop. It is not impossible, of course, and many a great poker story ends with players catching lucky cards on the turn and river to beat out a better hand (called “Sucking Out”) but if you are playing to win long term, you need to pay attention to what the flop brings.

If no one bets in front of you, your job is easy. You can check your way along as far as you like if everyone else is doing the same, waiting for your hand to improve. However, if you see a bet in front of you then you have to make that second most important decision. If you started with a small pair and see no improvement to a set or a flush or straight draw, then fold. If you had nothing and did not see an improvement to top pair or a draw, fold. Do you really, really have to fold? No, of course not. You could hang around and get lucky, or, especially if you are playing No Limit, you can try and muscle the pot away with a strong bluff. But either way you are playing risky; if you want to play a bit more conservatively, fold away unless you see the flop improve your hand.

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