QuickStat: A Random Hand Flops Trips Or A Full House ~20% Of The Time
Paired boards are troublesome for beginning players. I get many questions like, “What do I do when I get check-raised? How often does someone flop trips? What kind of line should I take when I flop trips?” These are all good questions, and we’ll discuss how to approach paired boards in the later lessons. For now, I want you to acknowledge the two main characteristics of a paired board. These are:
- Which card is paired
- Whether the unpaired card is higher or lower than the paired card
To answer the question I posed a moment ago, a random hand flops trips or a full house ~20% of the time. The rank of the paired card and how it fits into your opponent’s pre-flop range are particularly important, because the likelihood of flopping trips or better on a 244 board is much lower than on a KJJ board.
Likewise, how high the pair on the board is affects semi-bluffing opportunities. For example, while it’s generally a bad idea to draw to straights and flushes on paired boards, there are situations where overcards and flush draws have semi-bluff value. Let’s say you opened the BTN, and got three-bet out of the blinds from a solid player with 100bb stacks. Having a flush draw on a low board like 5♦5♣6♦ has value, because it’s unlikely his three-betting range hit that board, but your perceived three-betting calling range certainly includes hands that flopped trips. Combined with your fold equity, semi-bluff raising the flop is a viable option that can be very profitable.
Boards where the pair is higher than the unpaired card (7♦7♣4♠) play differently than the reverse situation. The main difference is more action, because the players fortunate enough to flop trips feel more comfortable playing their hand fast. After all, even if someone flopped a full house, the presence of live side cards means they still have ~40% equity, besides the possibility of having the best hand. Plus, even if you are out-kicked, your equity is still reasonable as long as the side cards are live.
On the other hand, when the pair is lower than the unpaired card (4♦4♣7♠), the action tends to slow down significantly. Especially in multi-way or deep-stacked pots, players with trips aren’t as excited to shovel money into the pot due to the prospect of drawing virtually dead against the overfull. Most of the time, bare trips will c-bet and play passively when faced with aggression, particularly if the unpaired card on the board matches with players pre-flop ranges, like on A♥3♠3♥.
Just because the action slows down on these boards doesn’t mean there’s no room for creativity. Since bare under-trips have to be concerned with another player having the overfull, this presents a good opportunity to execute a big bluff when holding a blocker to the nut full house. Before attempting this, make sure you treat it like any other blocker bluff. Don’t do it against a fish or any player incapable of folding trips regardless of how expensive you make it. Also, make sure the stacks are deep enough to fire multiple barrels if necessary. Last, don’t do it if your image is bad.
Floating is defined as calling a bet on one street with the intention of stealing the pot on a later street. Floating can happen on either the flop or the turn, but the floating discussion during this chapter is focused solely on flop play, because we will devote some time to floating the turn in Chapter 13.
Floating the flop and stealing pots away on later streets is a strategy many NLHE players are familiar with. Regardless of the floating strategies you have found to be successful, just realize for now that the profitably of a float comes from being able to bluff, semi-bluff, or value bet your hand on later streets. In other words, floating in position provides a higher level of playability, as well as more opportunities on later streets to gain profit that bluff-raising or outright folding does not.
One of the biggest complaints I receive from student’s sounds like this. “Hey John, I totally suck at playing the turn. Whenever I c-bet the flop and get called by someone with position on me, I have no clue what to do when the draw gets there, or really any type of card that doesn’t improve my hand. How do I beat the players who call me every time I bet, and make my life hell on later streets?” We’re going to spend much time talking about how to adjust to these players. The main thing to point out for now is how difficult you can make it on players when you simply call in position and make them play three streets against you.
The rest of the chapter focuses on a variety of useful strategies to make life difficult for your opponents, but that certainly doesn’t mean your options are limited to the topics covered here. Whenever you see an opponent do something that makes you uncomfortable, take note of it and use it on the other players. For example, if being consistently floated in position tilts you, then start floating in position against other opponents! It’s one of the quickest ways to get better, and it’s one of the reasons why I encourage players to look for tough games to play in.