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3 reasons you’re folding too much on flops

3 reasons you’re folding too much on flops

Oh no. There it is. An annoying ace on the flop.

In the early stages of a multi-table tournament, you’ve defended your big blind with a hand that had potential and you’re heads-up against the opener. But when you check the ace-high flop and your opponent continuation bets, you’re simply forced to fold. They always have top pair. Right?

Actually, no. While this is just one common scenario, it turns out the vast majority of poker players are folding too much on flops when facing continuation bets (or c-bets for short).

There are a few reasons for this, so let’s get to it.

You’re not considering their position

Sticking with our very basic ‘ace on the flop’ scenario, too many of us simply check and give up when faced with a c-bet out of position without considering how the opener’s range changes based on their own position at the table.

When an opponent opens from early position–let’s say under the gun–they typically will have a stronger range. This is because every other player is behind them waiting to act and their open has to get through all of them. Chances are someone else is going to wake up with a hand, so if their range is too wide and weak then the open is vulnerable to getting three-bet. That will leave them forced to either fold or call and play out of position.

When an opponent opens from the hijack or cutoff, however, their range is significantly wider as there are simply fewer players for the bet to get through.

The size of the open is also a big factor and it’s something that BBZ coach and Twitch streamer Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet — one of online poker’s biggest winners ever — goes into great detail on in his incredible webinar Bundle.

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Of course, an open from any position may contain an ace and a strong one at that. But next time, before you auto-click fold when facing a c-bet, make sure you’ve double-checked their position and use that to help inform your flop decision.

You’re misreading their range

Regardless of their position, assuming your opponent always has an ace is not the way to play.

Sure, the opener has a much stronger raise than you do when you defend the big blind. An early-position open range consists of a lot of strong aces. But it’s also composed of weaker suited aces, suited broadway hands (KQ, for example), and most pocket pairs.

When an opponent opens from the hijack or cutoff, however, their range is significantly wider as there are simply fewer players for the bet to get through. While all the aforementioned hands are still in the range, you’ve also got to consider weaker suited hands (J8 or 67 for example), suited kings, and the smallest pocket pairs.

Of course, if you believe your opponent is wild and crazy and likely to open any two at any time, you’re probably not assuming they’ve hit the ace and folding to their c-bet anyway.

But if you think they’re playing reasonably, make sure you’re taking all of those other hands into account. Whether they’ve got lower suited connectors or a big pocket pair likes queens or kings, an ace-high monotone flop isn’t going to be ideal for them.

This could open up opportunities for you to take the pot away from them, whether you’ve connected or not.

Which leads us on to our final point.

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You’re undervaluing your own range

The number of hands you choose to defend from the big blind will depend on how comfortable and confident you are when playing out of position. If you’re relatively new to the game, you might want to stick to defending with your stronger hands and hands which can flop very well (strong aces, broadways, pocket pairs and suited connectors come to mind). These will be easier to play post-flop.

But as you gain experience, you’ll want to open up your big blind defending range. Van Fleet, for example, defends 70 per cent of hands even against an under-the-gun open. That’s a lot of hands!

So let’s say the flop comes A72. Regardless of your actual hand, you have AX and sets in your range (although you’d usually elect to raise with your stronger aces). So how can you respond to the c-bet knowing your range connects with the flop?

Well, you could float, which means to call the bet with a hand that can turn equity or with a plan to bluff and take away the pot from your opponent. If you then check the turn and your opponent checks back, there’s an opportunity to bluff on the river and represent an ace or stronger. If your opponent has a hand like KQ or KJ, it will be extremely hard for them to call when they’ve whiffed everything.

All we’re saying is: you should never auto-click fold. If you feel you’re folding too much on flops then have a think through these points the next time you’re facing a c-bet.

By not folding too much on flops, you might find you start to win pots you never would have before.

To help you improve your play on the flop, check out BBZ Poker’s ‘Implementing Quantitative Strategies: Defending Flops’ coaching video. It will give you the tools to understanding the basic tactics supporting math-based defending strategies on the flop.


Implementing Quantitative Strategies: Defending Flops

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