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StrategyNo Limit

On the Flop - When to play Aggressively


In this article
  • Why to play aggressively
  • How to deal with resistance

The first "On the Flop" article introduced you to the basics. You learned the importance of analysing the board, knowing where you stand with your hand, and what you can accomplish with it. This article will use example hands to show you when and how to be aggressive after the flop has been revealed.

Aggressive play generally falls into one (and sometimes several) of the following categories:

  • Value bets
  • Protection
  • Bluff
  • Semi-bluff

The following examples will guide you as you learn to determine where you stand with your hand, why you should (or have to) play aggressively in a given situation, what actions to take and how to react to when an opponent refuses to lay down his hand.

We will use some full-ring examples, but concentrate mainly on short-handed play. There aren't that many differences between the two when it comes to flop play, so you can apply what you learn to both short-handed and full-ring games.

Playing for value

Example 1

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (6-handed)

Stacks & Stats

Hero ($25)
MP ($25)
CO ($25) (34/12/1.1/28/101) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
BU ($25) (26/22/3.4/22/390) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
SB ($25) (16/13/2.5/21/456) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
BB ($25)

Pre-flop: Hero is UTG with Q , Q
Hero raises to $1.00, 1 fold, CO calls $1.00, 1 fold, SB calls $1.00 1 fold

Flop: ($3.25) 4, 4, J (3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $2.50, ...


You raised from first position and got two cold calls. You like what you see on the flop and are ahead of your opponents in most cases. It's very unlikely that one of your opponents has a 4 (you might put the loose CO on a 4, but even that would be a stretch). Besides, his range is so wide that you won't be able to fold to him. There is no need to protect your hand on a rainbow flop with a paired board, either.


In this case you bet for one single reason: you want to maximize your value. You have a strong hand and want to get paid off.


There is no real reason to worry if opponents resist in this example. You would have no problem going all-in if you do get raised. Bet/3-bet is a decent option. You can definitely 3-bet if the CO raises; he doesn't seem to be a solid player and will often bet on a weak hand. Jx is probably good enough for him. You don't have position on him, so you should play check/raise if you make it to the turn.

If, on the other hand, the relatively tight small blind check/raises, it's probably a bluff. You are in position, so you can call on the flop and bet on the turn (or raise all-in if he bets).


You are almost always ahead in such a situation and would clearly like to go all-in if possible. You should be aggressive and bet, since you are sandwiched between two opponents. You also have the advantage of being the pre-flop aggressor. If you encounter resistance, don't ask yourself if you're willing to go broke with your hand, but rather how to best go about getting your money in.

Example 2

PartyPoker $25 NL Hold'em (10-handed)

Stacks & Stats
UTG ($25)
UTG+1 ($25) (40/5/0.3/35/432) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
UTG+2 ($25)
MP1 ($25)
MP2 ($25)
Hero ($25)
CO ($25) (8/5/1.8/18/371) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
BU ($25) (15/12/2.1/23/800) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]
SB ($25)
BB ($25) (12/9/2.6/21/333) [VPIP/PFR/AF/WTS/Hands]

Pre-flop: Hero is MP3 with A , J
1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.25, 3 folds, Hero raises to $1.25, 4 folds, UTG+1 calls $1.25

Flop: ($2.85) A, 7, 2 (2 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $2.00, ...

Take a look at this full-ring game example. You raised with AJo from middle position and a loose calling station decided to stay in the hand after limping.


You will usually be ahead in this situation. It's likely that your opponent has a small pocket pair or a weaker ace.


You bet for one reason: you want more value. You don't need to protect against this board and your opponent is not likely to bet himself. He likes to call all the way to the showdown, which is exactly what you want him do.


You'll have to be on guard in this situation. You're facing a passive player on a dry board. Be careful if he raises. There is no sense in 3-betting if he does. He will only fold a weaker hand or a bluff (don't expect him to bluff raise often). If he has a strong hand, however, he will push. The problem with 3-betting: You're going to have to call if he does push.

You have two options: Either you believe him (AK/AQ/77/22/A7 are within his range) and fold (a pretty cautious move to make). Or, you call having the advantage of position.

You will have to ask yourself if you have the best hand again if he second barrels on the turn.


With such a hand on a dry board you simply have to keep betting against such a passive opponent. If he shows resistance, you will know he's hit something. There's no need to go broke in such a hand, and there is little sense in 3-betting. When you're in position, you call. If you're out of position, however, folding is rarely a poor choice.


That's not the entire article...

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Comments (10)

#1 LemOn36, 03 Apr 09 15:37

Good Article. However, I don't like c/bet against loose peple with low F to C/bet where I play (NL5 SH). Many times I am beat to some random card he hit and I just take these people to valuetown when I really have the hand as they never fold ;o

I think these have to be at NL25 still

#2 TheBrood, 23 Apr 09 13:07


#3 ImAnAcehole9, 26 Oct 09 01:43

Hi Lemon, you have to C/bet the flop as you are always representing strength. You have to set the right table image for C/bets to work to thier full potential.

Have a look at this scenario: You have raised preflop with A K on the button and get 1 caller, the flop brings 7 9 3, you C/bet and your opponent puts you on A K and reraises you......simple action from you is fold.

The next time you play this opponent at the table in a hand it will eventually pay dividends because let's look at a simular situation where you would raise on the button: you are dealt 9 9 and make the standard raise on the button. Your little friend who check raised you earlier smiles and calls. The flop brings 2 7 9 and your friend checks, You throw out a C/bet and again your friend check raises you......now you have a decision to make, If you flat call he may think you have something or out of frustration chasing the A, K, Q or J (with a hand like AK,AQ,AJ etc) and potentially push all in on the turn. The other move you could make is move all in over the top (again made to look like frustration) but this will depend of course on the read you have on him.

#4 Koshburger, 20 Jan 10 10:43


#5 Tim64, 23 Sep 10 09:20


#6 andreimgs, 06 Apr 11 19:31

Good article !

#7 AKM247, 10 Aug 11 04:13

Good read. Cheers

#8 Tr3LoS, 12 Aug 11 23:16

Great articles and very useful examples.

#9 Strongsl, 30 Aug 11 01:41


#10 toske1, 13 Mar 15 18:51