High Stakes Fixed Limit Holdem Flop Strategy
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The flop can be the most important street in fixed limit hold’em, especially at high stakes. Although the pre-flop play can set up the hand, the decisions made on the flop are arguably more important. Because the high-stakes games can be so aggressive, a poor decision on the flop can be a very expensive decision. When drawing, it is important to draw to very strong hands as making a good second best hand can be the worst possible situation.
The flop is all about ranges. Regardless of the hands we play on the flop, it is more important what our opponents think we hold than what we actually hold. It goes back to the Level 3 thinking discussed in the pre-flop article. We need to consider what we think our opponents think we have based on how we played the hand.
Smart players are going to try to put us on a range. They do this the same way you put them on a range – by looking at how they played pre-flop, their stats, and our notes, which tell us about their tendencies. Then once the flop comes, they piece together their previous knowledge with the new information gained on the flop and narrow down the range. This is why varying our play is so important. What we do on the flop tells our opponents more information about our holdings. Strong players will play their hands according to how we play our hands, our tendencies, and our likely range given the texture of the board.
This is why the flop is so important. Five of the seven cards are in play and in most cases, people are now either committed to their hand or not. Many times the weaker players are going to let us know what their plan is on the flop. Although there are not very many weak players at these stakes, it is important to recognize what other players are trying to accomplish with their actions on the flop. Semi-bluffs can be very effective on the flop, as even when we don’t take down the pot immediately, we can take control of the hand, gaining us more information, free-cards, and the ability to steal the pot on later streets.
Again, position is so important in the hand. If we get to act last, we are giving up much less information. If we are in position and are the aggressor pre-flop and when checked-to we bet, we are not giving much information. Even if we check back the flop, the information is not as useful. Sure, we are saying we do not love our hand, but we control the pot in position and still can control the hand.
However, out of position you have many more options. We may lead or continuation bet, check-call, check-fold or even check-raise. All of these options give vital information to our opponents and savvy players will put the pieces together pretty quickly.
It is amazing that even at high-stakes, there are players who, while very aggressive, will not often consider what their opponents think they have. They may try to put you on a range, but your hand, especially in position, can be nearly irrelevant if you have a great read on their range.
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