Holdem Strategy : Leading on the Flop

In a normal texas holdem ring game, when you are first to act in a two-or-three handed pot the correct holdem strategy is to check many of your hands on the flop. There are many reasons to do this as we have already mentioned, with the simple reason being that at least one of your rivals is likely to have something worth betting. But the case would not be same in short-handed games.

However, you often come out betting with nothing at all and try to win whenever your rival doesn't have anything. You are getting at least 4 ½-to-1 odds on this kind of play. The difficulty with this bet is that it might appear suspicious that you didn't check to the raiser who will often bet immediately. Most players, if they have a good hand, would have gone for a check-raise.

But it is beneficial to bet out and sometimes pick up the pot. Therefore you should consider this a profitable play. You should this by not automatically checking to the raiser when you have something good. In order to make this a profitable bluff or a semi-bluff not looking suspicious, you will need to bet into your rival when you have a good legitimate hand as well.

Many of the better short-handed players apply such kind of strategy. They call a raise from the blind and on the flop they often bet, and they often have a legitimate hand.

When we say bet your legitimate hands this means into betting anytime you have a pair or a draw. Heads-up includes bottom pair because your rival will often have no pair and he might even throw away some pairs. For example, your rival raised on the button with a pair of fives and the flop comes

You rival will find some difficulty in calling if you bet.

So if you bet with your reasonable hands it allows you to steal when he has nothing good. You don't always bet good hands nor should you bluff a lot. But you should balance your bluffs with legitimate hands.

The reason to bet your reasonable hands rather than check-raise is that a check-raise puts lot of money in the pot and may get your rival involved in the hand. He will call your raise with little and you can't have a good read on his hand. You will not know whether he is slow-playing or just calling with a better hand. The fact that he calls when you check-raise on the flop doesn't necessarily indicate that you might not be able to win it a bet on fourth street. But it actually makes your play very expensive. Therefore one extra advantage of going further is that it increases your chance of winning right on the flop.

We are not saying that you should never check-raise the flop. If your strategy is not to check-raise, then your rival will clearly understand that when you do check you don't have anything. Thus you need your strategy fairly balance. Don't check to the raiser every time you have a legitimate hand but don't bet out every time either.

As reiterated, in short-handed games if you call a raise out of the blind it is correct to come out betting more than in a typical ring game. This is because it is less likely that your rival has a good hand. Moreover, you should ignore the fact that there was a raise. You can sometimes bluff, sometimes bet an average hand and sometimes bet a good hand. Don't always think that your rival was the raiser. If he is an aggressive player who will be raising with a lot of hands, automatically checking to him will give you a certain advantage.

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