2021 World Series of Poker

How to Think Like a Poker Pro (Flop Strategy Analysis)

Jason Koon

Not long ago poker pro Jason Koon wrote an insightful blog post titled "It's the same game, but it isn't" that deservedly earned quite a bit of attention. In the post Koon discusses how one reason why high-stakes games often move slowly — and thus aren't always the most exciting to watch — is that the decisions in these games have become much more complex.

For those watching, the process by which players like Koon are working through these decisions can be challenging to understand. To that end, poker coach Gareth James of MTT Poker School has created a helpful video showing how players like Koon respond to a specific hand situation by breaking down the process into a list of questions.

The hand James discusses begins with Hero in the big blind being dealt {k-Hearts}{7-Spades} and defending with a call after Villain opens from the cutoff. The flop then comes {k-Spades}{2-Hearts}{7-Hearts} to give Hero two pair and he checks, and Villain continues with a bet.

Here James stops the action — in fact, he cycles back to preflop to discuss the context a little further — in order to apply some of Koon's questions to this particular situation.

Here's a list of those questions Hero wants to answer in order to inform that flop decision:

  • What are the stack sizes?
  • What is my opponent's range?
  • Who is my opponent?
  • What history and reads do I have on my opponent?
  • What is my range?
  • Who is the board best for?
  • Who has the most significant proportion of big hands here?
  • What is the stack-to-pot ratio?
  • What range of hands do I continue here?
  • What is my raising strategy?
  • What preferences does my hand have?
  • Is it more aggressive than my global range average? Or is it more passive? What is my mix?

As James explains, some of these questions Hero should already have answered before the hand started. Meanwhile the more you study situations like this and others, the more quickly you can answer the other questions and know how best to proceed.

Take a look:

For more, here is Koon's blog post for the partypoker blog: "It's the same game, but it isn't."

Gareth James coaches at MTT Poker School and is the co-author with Dr. Tricia Cardner of Purposeful Practice for Poker.

  • Gareth @gazelligpoker James on how to think about poker hands like high stakes end-boss Jason Koon.

  • Gareth James considers a flop decision using Jason Koon's recommended questions for hand analysis.

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