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How to Play with a Pair on the Flop

There will be a pair on the flop about 12% of the time.  How you play this hand is very important because, even though it doesn’t happen often, you can lose a lot of money if you’re not careful.  Here’s a list of things to keep in mind when the flop poker is paired:

  • The Strength of the Pair

The higher the pair on the flop, the more likely it is that someone has made trips.  Players just play high cards more often than low cards.

  • The Number of Players in to See the Flop

The more players there are to see the flop the more likely it is that someone flopped trips.  Assume that the flop is J ♦ 3♥ 3♠.  A player who was dealt 9♣ 3♦ would have folded before the flop.  But, if there are a lot of players to see the flop, then it’s more likely that someone has a 3♣ or 3♦ with another card that would induce him to play the hand.  The most obvious holding would be A ♣ 3♣.  The more players dealt into the hand, the more likely it is that someone will get a hand with which to play a trey.

  • Players Who Might Have Trips

Most players who flop trips in this situation will check hoping to disguise their hand and hoping that someone else will beat bet poker it for them.  They will then attempt a check-raise on the turn.

  • A Player Who Doesn’t Have Trips

He is usually the one who actually starts the betting.  It’s usually the player who just calls who really does have the trips.  Seems backwards, but that’s the way it is in, $1-$4, $1-$ 5, $ 3- $6, $1-$4-$ 8- $ 8 games.  This is less true as you play higher nolimits texas holdem.

  • Don’t Be Lulled into a False Sense of Security

When there’s no bet on the flop or turn and you pick up a straight or flush draw.  You could already be beat and if you’re not, you could be beat on the river.

  • If There’s Just a Few of You in the Hand

You shouldn’t play because you’re getting such terrible pot odds.  Wait for a better hand to put your money in. since you really can’t be sure what a check or a bet on the flop really means, why make a guessing game out of it?  Wait for a hand where you want to put your money in the pot, not when someone else wants you to put your money in the pot.

  • The Value of the Paired Card is very Important

Which one of these two flops do you think represents more of a threat to you: 9♥ 5♠ 5♦ or 6♠ 5♥ 5♦?  Is a player more likely to play a 9♣ 5♥ or 6♣ 5♦?  Whenever you see a pair on the board you should think of the cards immediately above and below it and an Ace.  If a player does have a five, in this example, his kicker is most likely an Ace, six or a four.  That’s because if he does have the five, in this example, his kicker is most likely an Ace, six or a four.  That’s because if he does have the five, his most likely hand is A♣ 5♠ 6♠ 5♦ or 4♣ 5♠.  He’s not likely to play K ♦ 5♠ or something like that.
You should be on the lookout for one of his likely hole cards to hit on the turn or river.

  • Only Two Other Players at Most Can Have Flopped Trips

If there are more than two players in the hand, you have to try to figure out what they likely have, based on their position, playing habits, bets and raises.  If there are four or more players betting and calling pref flop or turn, you need a great hand to continue playing.  Drawing to a straight or flush under these circumstances will cost a lot of money in the long run.  You’re drawing dead.

  • If You Do Make the Straight or Flush on the Turn

Do not slowplay it.  For you to be beat, someone had to have flopped trips and then made the full house on the turn.  Use your judgment and carefully evaluate the board in determining if you’re beat or not.  That turn card is important as explained in the previous paragraph.

  • If You Intend to Bluff  at the Pot

If in your judgment, no one has one of the paired cards on the board, wait for the turn if you think a free card won’t hurt you.  Your opponent might be getting the right odds to call $4 on the flop if the pot is only $60 or $ 80 but he won’t be getting the right odds to call $ 8 on the turn if there’s only $60 or $ 80 in the pot.

  • If It’s Checked on the Flop and on the Turn

And there are a lot of players who get to see the river card for free, anything is possible.  Don’t be surprised to see a full house and a flush in the same hand.  Players will be making hands that they wouldn’t ordinarily make if they had to pay to play.

  • Reread Tell #16 on 92-93

It plays to be alert.

  • If the Board Has Two Pair After the Turn

You almost can’t pay to play if you’re drawing to a straight or a flush.  Don’t be fooled if it’s checked to you on the turn.  If the other player has made his full house, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose if you bet.  If you have the best hand, you win nothing because he can’t call.  And obviously, if you’re beat, you lose.  You should also check on the river for just this reason.  Don’t forget that you could be being set up for a check-raise betting on the river.

How to Play When You Flop a Flush
  The higher your flush, the less vulnerable your hand.  Unless you have some specific reason to believe that a check-raise attempt will work or that you should slowplay the hand, you should usually bet it right out.  This is one of those hands that produces a higher than usual number of second-best hands and drawing hands.
  If you flop a flush and bet, you will be called more often than usual, but on the other hand you will be drawn out on a little more often than usual.  That’s because the players on a flush draw won’t believe that you flopped the flush and the only other types of hands that can call with be pairs, two pairs and trips.
  If a fourth or even a fifth card of your suit shows up, be alert for the straight flush.  Making a straight flush in any one start with five cards of the same suit and up to ten players can add two more cards those five, then it becomes easy to make a straight flush.  This is especially true when the lowest card on the board is relatively high, such as a five or six.  This is also true when the three or four of the cards are close in rank.
  The play of a flopped flush is pretty much straightforward: Make them pay to best you.
  The lower your flush, the more vulnerable your hand.  Any card of your suit can kill your hand unless you have an open-end straight flush draw to go with your flush.  Because of that fact, you must bet.  If a flush card comes on the river and you know that someone has made the flush, but you can’t figure out who it was, I want to tell you that more often than not, it’s the player who checked and called throughout the hand and is now betting into you.
  The player who flopped a hand will bet to protect his hand.  The player on the draw will usually check and call.  If the caller raises on the end, you can be sure he made his hand.

How to Play When You Flop Two Pair
  If you have A ♥ J ♠ and the flop is A ♦ J♥ 5♣, then your hand plays itself.  Bet or check-raise if the guy on your left bets out of turn.  Any straight draw and any Ace will pay you off.  For that matter, any time you flop top two pair, you will usually have the best hand and you should bet it.

  If you flop top two pair and there are many players, and a lot, and I mean a lot, of raising, you are probably beat.  Here is what has likely happened: If you flopped top two pair as in the above example, someone else flopped a set of fives.  Considering the cards that are out, it’s easier to flop a set of fives than it is to flop a set of Aces or Jacks.  In any case, you are beat.  For you to still have the best hand, the raiser would have to have a hand worse than yours and that means something like A♣ 5♠ or J ♥ 5♦.  He certainly wouldn’t bet like that with just one pair.

  If you have A ♥ 7♥, and the flop is A♣ 7♦ 3♠, and another player has A ♠ K♣, you are a 14-1 favorite over him.
  If you flop bottom two pair, you should definitely bet, because this hand doesn’t figure to hold up very well against several players.  Ideally, you want to win this hand on the flop because almost any card on the turn could beat you.  Any card higher than your two pair represents an obvious threat to your hand.  The only improvement you can make is to a full house, and under the circumstances, you might be drawing odds dead.
  Play carefully if you make a full house like this.  That’s just the nature of the game; two low pair makes a low full house and two high pair makes a higher full house.  This concept comes into play when the flop has three cards to an Ace-high straight and two players flop two pair, but a different two pair. 
  Here’s a few miscellaneous thoughts to close out this chapter:

  • It’s very unusual for a player who has flopped two pair to check on both the flop and the turn.  A player would usually bet to protect his hand.  The practical application of this is that if a full house is possible on the river, the player usually does not have it if he checked on both the flop and the turn.  Often, he is encouraged by the fact that you also checked and now he is trying to represent a full house.  You should almost always call, and if you’re really courageous, raise him.  You’ll often win the pot right there.
  • If you flop a set and then run off a pair, your full house will be good 98% of the time.  You have to be careful when the pair that comes on the turn and river is Aces, Kings or Queens.  Here’s an example: You have Q♣ T ♦ and the flop is Q ♦ T ♥ T ♠.  The turn and river are A ♥ A ♠.  Anyone holding A♣ T ♦ hit perfect-perfect to beat you.  Rare, but it happens.

It’s impossible to tell you how to play every hand under all circumstances but a thorough understanding of the poker theory will be a good guide for you.  First, determine what your objective is, and then determine how best to accomplish it.  You have many tools at your disposal (check, bet, calling, check-raise, slowplaying, giving false tells), but the quality of your decision-making should be the overall deciding factor in your success in this game.