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StrategyFixed Limit

Post-flop: Standard play against one opponent

Video: Click here


In this article
  • The 6 different heads up situations
  • Profitable standard action to take against one opponent
Out of Position

You are out of position when you must act before your opponent in the current betting round. If however, you see the actions of your opponents before you are forced to make a move, you are in position.

You will frequently find yourself in a position where you are against a single opponent post-flop. We call this situation heads-up. There are different standard courses of action for this situation which you should learn by heart.

This article will often refer to situations described in the article Introduction to playing before the flop, in which you learned how to play various starting hands. We will now adopt a more aggressive approach to post-flop isolated situations, in which you must use what you've learned.

After using the various playing styles outlined in this article, you can carry this aggressive approach into the later betting rounds. Both articles form a unit.


Extended charts for playing before the flop

An overview of the mathematics of poker - Odds und Outs

There was no pre-flop raiser

You are out of position

You always bet! Your cards are irrelevant. The opponent must fold only 1/3 times in order to make this play profitable.

If the opponent calls your bet:

  • ... You can bet again on the turn with a made hand or a draw.
  • ... You can abandon the hand if it has no value. You play check/fold, that is, check and then fold to any bets.

If the opponent raises the flop:

  • ... You raise again with a good made hand or a strong draw.
  • ... Fold with any other hand.
Video anschauen
Bet flop, bet turn
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This example outlines the playing style to be used with a strong draw. You should bet both the flop and the turn.

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Bet/3-bet flop, bet turn
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This example shows a flushdraw and an OESD, and the opponent raises our bet on the flop. We raise again (3-bet).

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Bet flop, check/fold turn
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We bet the flop on a bluff and the opponent calls. What now? Check/fold is advised, so we check and fold when the opponent bets.

You are in position

If the opponent checks on the flop, you should bet with every hand. If he bets, then:

  • You fold every unplayable hand.
  • You call with made hands and draws with the intention of raising on the turn. You do this to get more value from your made hands and to increase the chances of the opponent handing you the pot if you have a draw.

With weak draws such as overcards, you can call once on the flop, but you must get out of the hand on the turn if your cards don't improve.

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Bet flop
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In this example the opponent checks the flop when our player is in position.

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Call flop, raise turn
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In this example our player makes the decision to call on the flop and raise the turn.

The opponent raised before the flop

You are out of position

With weak hands you have the easy decision to play check/fold. With made hands and draws, you check first, because you expect the opponent to bet as he is the pre-flop aggressor; then you can raise. We call this move check/raise.

After that, you should continue to bet the turn in most cases. You must decide how likely it is for the opponent to hit the board in each case. Give the opponent a possible range of hands and compare this to your own hand and to the community cards.

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Without the initiative with top pair
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You hit top pair and are first to act without the initiative. How do should you play?

You are in position

Here you should also fold if you have nothing. If you have a playable hand, you should play it by just calling with the intention of raising on the turn.

But be cautioius: the opponent has already shown considerable strength by raising before the flop, knowing he could well end up out of position. Initially, especially any made hand should be stronger. With medium draws and made hands you should call in accordance to odds & outs, because the probability that you can bluff the opponent out of his hand on the turn decreases. He will usually have too good a hand to fold.

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Top pair against a potentially strong hand
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We have top pair and top kicker, but the small blind shows a lot of strength before the flop.
Should we now play passively or aggressively?

You raised before the flop

You are out of position

Now we address the case where we raise and a player calls after us. In this case you should make a continuation bet, regardless of whether or not you hit the flop. There is a reasonable chance that the opponent didn't hit anything. If you fail to bet, you might be bluffed out even though you have the better hand.

Should the opponent raise, you can raise again with strong hands (made hands or draws) and continue to bet the turn. Often the opponent may be trying to intimidate you, getting you to check the turn and allowing him to take a free card and save himself money.

By applying pressure, you can make things more expensive for the opponent and keep the initiative. Without a strong draw or with only a few outs, you can call and then get out of the hand on the turn if your hand does not improve.

If the opponent just calls your bet and you have a good hand, you can naturally bet the turn. However, if you have a weaker hand and the board does not offer you many draws, you could end up in trouble. If you bet again and the opponent raises, you need to evaluate what you think his raise means.

If he only raises with strong hands, the solution is simple: fold.

He may now either have a strong hand or a draw, so you cannot fold that so easily.

Difficult questions emerge, which cannot be discussed any further in this context. In short, you should only call with strong hands (top pair or better) and play draws according to odds and outs. If you fold in this situation too often, your opponents will notice and do the same thing every time.

Video anschauen
Bet/3-bet flop, bet turn with a made hand
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In this article we have said that strong hands and draws are often played the same. Here are two examples that illustrate this theory.

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Bet/3-bet flop, bet turn with a draw
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The opponent raised our continuation bet and we have a strong draw. How should you play according to this article?

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Bet/call flop, check/fold turn
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Because we are not super aggressive players, we abandon hands with nothing. Here is an example of a scenario where you can get to the turn before throwing away your hand.

You are in position

In this situation you have successfully isolated a player. If he checks, you should always make your continuation bet. After a check/raise, you should naturally throw away any worthless hand. The same applies if your opponent bets instead of checking. With playable hands such as overcards, or hands with a similar number of outs, you can call once on the flop and fold on the turn if you do not improve.

With strong made hands and strong draws you should only call on the flop. On the turn, you should consider whether your hand is strong enough for a re-raise, either as a semi-bluff (if you have sufficient outs and there's a large enough probability that the opponent folds) or to add to the pot to get more value for your hand. As your opponent showed strength despite your pre-flop action, he won't be happy to let go of his hand. All three options are available to you when you have a draw: call, raise or fold.

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Opponent bets into us
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We successfully isolate the player and we hit the flop, but he bets into us. What does the article say? 


As you can see, the game on the flop can become very complicated and it is difficult to give every situation a watertight  rule. This article gives you some general guidelines that will help you to find your feet and base your play on.

It is naturally inevitable that when you examine your own play over various hands, you question whether an alternate play would have been more appropriate in the given situation. This is positive because it is the first step to forming your own ideas about the game and developing a deeper understanding of the theory.


Comments (8)

#1 mouse89, 06 Oct 08 14:14


#2 irregularity, 26 Apr 09 19:06

Some good info on a lot of situations, thanks.

#3 amater001, 17 Apr 10 19:28

useful...<br />

#4 krumvirek, 15 Aug 10 22:32

good info and video´s

#5 nemiren, 14 Oct 10 09:54

i dont understand something-why do we call flop raise turn ip hu no pfr with fd? fold equity of opponent must only be bigger on later streets so we charge ourself the most?!

#6 lindawaty, 25 Feb 11 09:49


#7 sinm25, 11 May 11 21:24

I dont think that this will work on $0,25/$0,50 tables. Players there play more hands, and it is not so easy to predict thair hands.

#8 BreadWarden, 17 Sep 11 04:24

I often find myself unsure in heads up situations, so it's good to get some guidance.