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NLHE Foundations #07: Putting Opponents on Flop Ranges (Part 1)

NLHE Foundations #07: Putting Opponents on Flop Ranges (Part 1)

Introduction

I’ve been doing the free NLHE Foundations Course here on FlopTurnRiver to give players a straight-forward path to go from the beginner levels to the intermediate levels with a mind towards being able to systematically improve over time. If you want to take part and get exclusive private messages, notifications and other content, sign up in this thread by just posting.

If you need to make an account to do so, the other 15-20 people who have created new accounts to take part in this will tell you that it’s well worth the 30 seconds it takes to sign up.

Let’s get started on this lesson.

Post-Flop Ranges vs. Pre-Flop Ranges

Over the past three lessons, we’ve been looking at how pre-flop ranges break down. We’ve looked at a ton of tricks and mental shortcuts that can help you to figure out how people are playing and how to be much more accurate with your pre-flop play. Now we’re going to apply some of the same ideas to post-flop play.

The main difference between pre-flop ranges and post-flop ranges are that pre-flop ranges are about the specific hands and post-flop ranges are about the relative value of those hands on the flop.

For example, you might say that someone 3-bets with {JJ+, AK} in some situation pre-flop, and those are specific hands. However, you might turn around and say that someone called three streets with third pair, no draw on a king-high board. This speaks to relative hand values. This is going to be our focus for this and the other lessons on post-flop ranges.

Facing Continuation Bets

We’re going to start by facing continuation bets against a single opponent. For the sake of simplicity and the Pareto Principle, we’re only going to look at two main factors when it comes to evaluating flop texture for the sake of figuring out an opponent’s continuation betting habits:

  1. If the flop has any cards jack or higher, we’ll call it a high card flop. Otherwise, it’s not a high card flop.
  2. If the flop has a flush draw or two connected cards other than AK/32, we’re going to call it a wet flop. Otherwise, we’ll call it a dry flop.

Obviously here are a few other types of boards that deserve special attention in some cases like monotone flops and paired boards, but this will do fine for us for now.

High Card Flops vs. Non-High Card Flops

High card flops are traditionally thought of as being good flops for continuation bets because it’s relatively easy to “represent” having hit the board, and a lot of hands that have caught a small pair can be bluffed into folding because of the threat of future pressure. If someone’s making continuation bets too often on these boards, then you can call down with single-pair hands that aren’t top pair, especially if you have outs to catching two pair with something like 98 on J84 as opposed to something like 99 on Q85 where you only have two outs to improve. You also have options to raise on a bluff with hands that have a piece of the board.

Wet Flops vs. Dry Flops

What most of it breaks down to on this criterion is that you need to know if they’re being aggressive with their draws or not. That’s really all it breaks down to. This is extremely important later on when we look at double barreling situations because players who do not c-bet with draws will tend to have fewer desirable hands to fire with on the turn, and that will drastically change how you play against them.

The Checking Situation

Those of you who have followed through this series would note that the 3-betting and calling ranges pre-flop were tied together in a big way. In fact, you really needed to think about both of them at the same time to get anywhere with either of them.

The same thing happens with ranges for your opponents who are continuation betting vs. checking on the flop.

When you’re thinking about what an opponent will make a continuation bet with, you also need to be considering what they’re checking with. If they’re checking something, you know they aren’t c-betting it (or they’re at least not c-betting it as often). This is the critical type of information that will give you a massive advantage in today’s allegedy tough games.

This Lesson’s Homework

This lesson’s homework has several parts. You need to do all of them.

  • Pick an opponent who you have a lot of hands on. Use your database program (see lesson 4 for free trials) to filter for all of the hands that went to showdown where this opponent had an opportunity to make a continuation bet.
  • Break up all of the flops into four groups: high card + wet, high card + dry, low card + wet, low card + dry.
  • For each flop in each group, write out the hands that he made continuation bets with and the hands he checked with.
  • Draw conclusions based on what you’ve found with this analysis about how your opponent plays in general. Include pre-flop stats and flop stats in your analysis that you post in this thread for lesson seven.

Note: Make sure that you’re including the flops for each of these hands and noting the types of flopped hands your opponents are continuation betting and checking with instead of just noting the pre-flop hand. Knowing that he’s c-bet K8s isn’t very helpful at all, but seeing that an opponent tends to c-bet second pair tells you a ton.

I look forward to reading the responses on this one.

Jesse Eddleman is a gambling writer with over ten years of experience in the industry, and he has written for FlopTurnRiver.com and many other top online portals. You can learn more about him at http://www.potentialeight.com/ and read his book for people who want a career to support their poker habit on Amazon.

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