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Ten Flops After A Light Three-Bet

by Ed Miller |  Published: Oct 01, 2013


Ed MillerLast column, I chose a specific set of preflop actions and then examined how I would play on each of ten different flops. I’ll go through a similar exercise here with a different hand.

You’re in the big blind. It’s a $5-$10 no-limit hold’em game with $1,000 stacks. Your opponent opens the button for $30. He’s a regular, professional player, entrenched at this level.

The small blind folds. You reraise to $110 with KSpade Suit 4Spade Suit. As a professional player, you expect your opponent to defend against your reraise with a fairly wide range of hands, though you also expect that he would fold the worst of his button opens.

He calls. Let’s go through a quick overview of the dynamics of this scenario. The pro will open the button with a wide, wide range of hands. The big blind (BB) is compelled to reraise liberally, or else the button may be able to steal with nearly all hands.

(Without delving into too much theory, it is much better for the BB player if the button folds perhaps 50 percent of hands than if he steals 100 percent of the time and shows a profit with each hand. Reraising preflop is the principal defense against overaggressive blind stealing.)

The big blind’s reraising range will be polarized. That is, he will have premium hands like A-A and Q-Q and A-K. And he will also have junk that would be barely worth a call, like K-4 suited. With hands like Q-10 suited or K-10 offsuit, he’s likely better off just calling, as these hands have clear postflop value.

The button’s calling range is not polarized. He will likely be calling with all his medium strength hands such as Q-10 suited and K-10 offsuit.

Thus, the BB will tend either to have very good hands or junk. The button will tend to have hands that can flop fairly well, but a smaller percentage than the big blind of truly premium hands.

In general, therefore, flops with something “going on” will play to the strength of the button player, while the BB will prefer more static flops. The BB should be more willing to continuation bet (c-bet) on those flops that don’t offer particular promise for the button opponent.

And now it’s time for the flops. To recap, the button opened, and we reraised from the BB with KSpade Suit 4Spade Suit.

JHeart Suit 10Diamond Suit 6Club Suit

This is not the flop you’re looking for. It’s likely the button has a piece of a flop like this one, and you airballed completely — only an overcard and a weak backdoor-straight draw. I’d check and fold. I’d be checking this flop with many hands, perhaps including ASpade Suit AClub Suit. When I do c-bet this flop with a marginal hand, I will want some equity if called. This hand has very little equity when called, so I just give up.

KHeart Suit 8Spade Suit 4Club Suit

This, on the other hand, is precisely the flop you’re looking for. It’s a dry flop, and therefore one that the BB should bet more frequently. I’d bet this hand also, planning to bet all three streets. There’s no need to bet large, as with a $225 pot and $890 behind, it will be no trouble to get stacks in. I’d likely bet about $90.

ASpade Suit 6Club Suit 5Heart Suit

I’d bet this flop also. You have backdoor-straight and flush draws. If called, I’ll likely give up on a turn card that doesn’t give me a draw, while I’ll bet again if I catch a draw. A $90-$110 bet should suffice on this flop.

6Club Suit 5Spade Suit 3Club Suit

This is a tricky flop, as I could see two opposing arguments. First, the button will think it very unlikely that you hold a four, so if the straight comes in, you have potential implied odds. That would argue against pushing the action early.

On the other hand, this is a flop your opponent may raise with some frequency. If you get raised, you’ll want a few hands to shove with as a bluff. This hand fits that role well, as it will have good equity when called — and some of that equity comes from spiking a king. If you spike a king on the turn, you can’t expect to win as often if stacks go in at that point, so the king has more value shoving over a flop raise.
I’d likely bet this hand, planning to shove over a raise. I’d keep the bet small again, maybe $100, to give myself room to shove with fold equity.

10Spade Suit 6Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit

With a flush draw and bottom pair, many no-limit players automatically look to get stacks in on the flop. More often than not, with this particular hand, you’re wasting your hand’s value if you try to do that. The set of hands you’ll be up against will tend to leave you a slight dog. With the fold equity of a big raise, there’s no question it’s profitable to play for stacks.

But, I think it’s often more profitable to play this hand for its strengths. With a small pair, you have showdown value, but only if the pot stays small from here out. You can catch a king or four and have a disguised hand with implied odds against a big pair or a hand like K-Q. And, of course, you can make a flush. Some of your flush draws you will wish to play fast, so it’s beneficial to have ones you play slow as well.

I’d check and call with this hand. It’s an excellent complement to the other hands you might check and call with.

KClub Suit QDiamond Suit 3Diamond Suit

I’d likely check and call here too. If you bet and get raised, you’re in a spot where you might have to get stacks in at a significant disadvantage. Checking also gives you the best chance to get value from a queen.

QDiamond Suit 3Heart Suit 3Spade Suit

I’d continuation bet this flop. You’ve got an overcard and a backdoor-flush draw, and this is a poor flop for the button’s range.

QHeart Suit JDiamond Suit 10Heart Suit

You’re open-ended, but this is not a good flop for you. Your draw is extremely obvious, and you have nothing going on the side. This board smacks the button’s range.
I’d certainly check, and I’d fold if the button bet large enough. If the flop checks through and the turn is a brick, I’d consider a delayed c-bet. The button would be unlikely to check through any hands with true value on a flop like this one.

QHeart Suit 6Heart Suit 4Heart Suit

You have bottom pair on a monotone flop. I bet here. If your opponent doesn’t have a queen (or better), a pair plus a heart, or the AHeart Suit or KHeart Suit, you’ll likely get a fold. There are a lot such hands, but there are also a lot that don’t fit any of those categories, and you’ll be getting odds. Plus, you have a chance to catch the turn and outdraw the queens. I’d bet bigger — perhaps $160 — to get the marginal folds.

AHeart Suit JHeart Suit 8Diamond Suit

I’d check and fold. You have no equity when called, and a smart opponent will call you too often. ♠

Ed’s newest book, Playing The Player: Moving Beyond ABC Poker To Dominate Your Opponents, is on sale at Find Ed on Facebook at and on Twitter @EdMillerPoker.