Poker Strategy: The Texture of the Flop

Poker Strategy: The Texture of the Flop 0001

[B]"I had {a-Hearts}{10-Hearts}, the flop came {j-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{9-Spades} and I bet the pot. My opponent went all in. I was stuck, I had no idea what he had…."[/B]

It should come as no great surprise that our opponent went all-in here. Why?

The texture of the flop is so good. There are so many hands that our opponent could have which have hit a good piece of this flop, and with which he could go all-in.

Let's make a list, just to illustrate what a massive number of hands are possible:-

Straight (KQ,Q8,87)

Over pair (AA),

Over pair plus straight draw (KK,QQ),

Trips (JJ,10,99),

Two pair (J10, 109, J9)

Pair plus straight draw (KJ, QJ, J8,K10,Q10,108,K9,Q9,98,88,77),

Flush draw (any two spades),

Pair plus flush draw {A-Spades}{J-Spades}{K-Spades}{J-Spades}{Q-Spades}{J-Spades},

One pair, top kicker (A10,AJ,A9)

One over card plus straight draw (AK,AQ, indeed any king or queen)

The main point behind the list is to show how many hands hit a flop with a texture as good as this. The list also shows that our A10 is unlikely to be in good shape. Many hands have us beat and drawing very thin, and all the hands that we are beating are drawing to many outs against us. If the all in is a sizeable bet, it is probably right to fold.

The texture of the flop
The texture of a flop gives an idea of how "interesting" the flop is. Flops with a good texture have hit many hands, flop with a bad texture have hit few.

Let's look at how we would describe the texture of certain flops. We'll give each flop a rating from 1 to 4 (1 being the best texture, and therefore most active flop)

Category 1- examples

{j-Spades}{10-Spades}{9-Spades}

{k-Spades}{q-Spades}{10-Hearts}

{a-Hearts}{k-Hearts}{q-Hearts}

{10-Spades}{9-Spades}{8-Hearts}

Category 2- examples

{k-Spades}{q-Spades}{9-Hearts}

{a-Hearts}{j-Hearts}{10-Spades}

{j-Hearts}{10-Diamonds}{8-Spades}

{7-Spades}{6-Spades}{5-Hearts}

Category 3- examples

{a-Hearts}{10-Spades}{3-Diamonds}

{k-Spades}{j-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}

{a-Hearts}{9-Hearts}{6-Spades}

{2-Hearts}{2-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}

Category 4- examples

{q-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{2-Spades}

{k-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}{3-Hearts}

{7-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}

{j-Hearts}{3-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}

As you'll see from the examples, there are really three main factors that determine whether a flop has a good texture- the number of big cards, the connectedness (closeness) of the cards, and the number of cards of the same suit

Why does {a-Hearts}{10-Spades}{3-Diamonds} have a better texture than {7-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}?

This is because of the first factor behind the texture of the flop- the number of big cards. In Holdem, the typical hands that see a flop are more likely to have cards ten or higher; these cards (10,J,Q,K,A) are said to be in the playing zone.

Why does the number of cards of the same suit matter?

A flop has a better texture with 2 or 3 cards of the same suit, as it makes flush draws possible. A flop which has cards of three different suits often has a bad texture, and is said to be a rainbow flop.

Why does the connectedness of the cards matter?

The closer the cards are together, the more straight draws are available. Players generally play cards that are close together, so a connected flop is more likely to produce a strong hand like a pair plus straight draw, or two pair.

A flop with a bad texture

Let's make a list of the starting hands that will retain interest in the flop {q-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{2-Spades}.

Overpair (AA,KK)

Trips (QQ,77,22)

One pair (AQ,KQ,QJ,A7)

Two pair (Q7,Q2,72, but these hands will probably have been folded)

With no straight or flush draws, there are very few hands, which will retain an interest in this flop. Compare this short list to the list at the start of the article to see just what a difference the texture makes.

Why does the texture of the flop matter?

When the flop comes down, always evaluate the texture of the flop as one of the first things you do. It is such an important thing as it affects all of these areas of the game:-

1) Continuation betting

A continuation bet relies on the fact that your opponent is not likely to have hit the flop. Therefore, always be eager to make a continuation bet when the flop has a poor texture, and refrain from doing so when the texture puts the flop into category one. As we have seen, if you make a continuation bet on the flop of {q-Hearts}{7-Clubs}{2-Spades}, there are very few hands with which your opponent can possibly call.

2) Bluffing

One stage on from the continuation bet is the outright bluff. On the flops with poor texture, a lead-out bluff is more likely to succeed. For example, you have called a raise in the big blind with {k-Hearts}{q-Hearts}, and the flop comes {j-Diamonds}{7-Hearts}{2-Clubs}. If you "lead-out" with a bet, your opponent is less likely to be able to call you, because of the poor texture.

If you suspect your opponent is continuation betting on most flops, then a check-raise can become a cunning play. Let's say you hold {a-Hearts}{10-Hearts}, the flop comes {q-Diamonds}{8-Spades}{3-Clubs}, and you check. If your opponent bets, a check-raise from you makes good use of the knowledge that the texture of the flop makes it less likely that he has a hand.

3) Slow-playing

Imagine you have hit the nuts on the flop. Do you bet it now, or do you decide to slowplay? The biggest factor is this decision is the texture of the flop.

The situation is the opposite of trying to get away with a bluff, and logic says that you should slow-play far more on flops of poor texture. Because very few hands can retain an interest and pay you off, it is a good idea to let them see another card to make a hand.

An example of the contrasting situation is when you hold {k-Diamonds}{q-Clubs}, and hit top straight on the {j-Spades}{10-Spades}{9-Hearts} flop. You should almost always bet this hand straight away. Your opponent is very likely to have a hand which can call, or even raise, you; your best opportunity to get lots of chips into the pot is now, on the flop.

Despite holding the nuts, there are of course some hands that can outdraw you. A hand with two spades is one card from beating you, a set or two pair is drawing to a full house, and even AQ or AK can beat you with a higher straight. Bet now, so as to charge these hands to draw against you.

Ed note: Stuart Rutter is a regular on the EPT circuit and the sponsored professional at 32Red Poker - join today for a $500 bonus when you deposit

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