Tips on postflop play from psychological point of view. Part 1

Tips on postflop play from psychological point of view. Part 1

This publication opens the series of articles about psychological factors that form basics of difficult strategy of postflop play in No Limit Texas Hold’em.

Studying poker literature, one could notice that most articles about poker strategy are about preflop actions of the players. This is understandable and logical. Strong preflop strategy allows to get rid of many problems and sufficiently limits the number of difficult decisions emerging in the process of the game. There is no doubt that a god preflop is required to show profit in the long run. It will very least protect you from serious losses.

It is surprising that not many beginners understand that.

However, the best strategic studies of poker play are dedicated to nuances of postflop play. The higher the stakes, the more important is player’s postflop skills.

Should you been watching the play of professional poker players, you could notice they often play not the strongest hole cards (they are usually called marginal hands). Why they do that? What is the reason? The thing is that in many postflop situations inexperienced opponents won’t feel comfortable. Postflop skill allows you to play maximum hands preflop as the strong player knows what to do with weak hands at later streets on different board textures. This means postflop skill gives you an edge and an opportunity to outplay your opponents.

Thus postflop experts try to see as many flops as possible and turn their skill into chips won.

So let us have a look at basic principles of postflop play. Each of the factors that define successful postflop strategy without a doubt worth a detailed discussion. Unfortunately, we can’t do it in one single article. Our goal is to highlight basic principles of effective postflop play and those players who really need this knowledge will exert maximum efforts to improve the poker skill in many aspects.

Some aspects of strategy are mostly implied in tournaments, rather than in cash games and vice versa. However, we decided not to discuss them separately as successful postflop rules work in all the disciplines.

I. Position is a kind, queen... prince, princess and a joker at the same time.

Practically all the aspects of No Limit Hold’em play needs a note 'need to be adjusted considering your position at the table'.

The later you enter the hand, the wider the range of your actions and the range of the hands. It is considered that positional factor in poker is even more important on postflop. This is true, but in addition it is worth considering that preflop decisions will define your position in postflop play as well.

You have probably noticed many times that when you are in the hand from the blinds position you almost every time act first on the flop, turn and river, what gave you significant difficulties. The blinds are the worst position in the hand: players o this position have to act first on postflop. The one very big issue here is that opponents who have position on you will have more information with which to make better decisions and will be able to make optimal decisions based on your actions.

The later you act, the less problems you face... and one more psychological factor: the increase in the number of factors influencing your decisions increases the probability of making a mistake.

II. Myth of aggression

There is a myth that the best postflop players are hyper-aggressive. It s considered that always squeeze their opponents from the pot and never get to the showdown. This is an exaggeration at best. The aggression of the good player always depends on the situation, opponents’ hand range, board texture and other factors.


Important thesis of Mike Caro that 'aggression in poker is rarely a mistake but the consequences of such a mistake are highly unpleasant' is still relevant.

Aggressive play is only advantageous to the players who correctly assess table dynamics, opponents play and his position.

Overly aggressive players always fall into the traps set by attentive opponents. Aggression is only good in certain situations.

We advise you to read the article about aggression in poker.

III. There is no shame in making a fold

On most flops you won’t have a hand at all or, what’s worse you will have a weak poker combination. You need to give up at the right time (fold your cards) to cut your losses.

Chips saved are chips won. From the psychological standpoint, it is amazing how many players neglect this obvious equation.

Gender factor is also relevant here. Fold is often perceived as weakness that a man can not show as 'guys won’t understand'. If you would often fold your hole cards in response to the aggression, you will have an image of a weak player. Don’t be to upset about it.

You will be able to capitalize on the mistaken perception of your game (remember the conceptions described by Dan Harrington). Let’s suppose the opponent forced you out of the pot several time in a row. There is nothing awful in it. Just think of the way to use this against him. Don’t let you hurt ego play instead of you. You probably know how it happens. There is an anger and a will to 'punish' this guy at any price.

Usually such an attitude leads to sad consequences. You enter the pot without position or having a worse hand, call without giving it too much thought and raise the bets. The worst part is you stop paying attention to the other players at the table.

IV. Avoid coin flips

Don’t risk a big number of chips in borderline situations, especially if you feel your skill is better that the opponent’s. Coinflip EV can be slightly profitable in the long run but most likely it will be neglected by the rake in the game.

The loss of one of the pots in coin flip will neglect all your +EV plays. If you have an edge on the postflop, avoid borderline situations.

Invest your chips only when you suppose you are ahead of the supposed range of the opponent.

That is it for the moment. Run good!

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