QuickStat: ~55% of flops are two-tone, ~40% of flops are rainbow, and 5% of flops are monotone.
QuickFact: Semi-bluffs and stack off decisions on dynamic boards are equity driven. The same decisions on static boards are driven by frequencies and opponent tendencies.
Board Texture Terminology
It’s important to review a few definitions to make sure we’re on the same page. The first definition is wetness, which is defined in poker terms as the degree to which a board makes draws to straights and flushes possible. Something I’ve noticed from surfing the forums and doing a bunch of coaching is that many players use the term wetness way too loosely; almost to the point where they label any two-tone board as being a “wet” board. You and I both know all wet boards aren’t created equally, so how can we describe the difference in wetness between two different two-tone boards, such as J53 and KJ8?
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you, heaviness. Heaviness is the degree in which a board interacts with pre-flop ranges, and what it does is fill in the language gap we pointed out a moment ago. You’ll get a better picture of how these definitions fit together once you see the board examples in the next few pages, but for now simply realize when we say a board is “heavy”, it means the pre-flop ranges of our opponents are likely to hammer the board texture. More specifically, heavy boards contain big cards, and light boards contain low cards.
The last terms are useful because they provide a way to quantify the vulnerability of the current nuts. Calling a board dynamic implies the current nuts are likely to change by the river. On the other hand, saying a board is static means the current nuts are unlikely to change by the river.
Board Texture Examples
What we’re going to do now is bring the texture definitions to life by describing the varying dynamics on a few different categories of boards. The goal is to familiarize you with what kinds of ranges hit each board the hardest and most often, (and the least often as well), and what kinds of hands drive the action.
Example #1: Heavy/Dry Boards (e.g. A♦K♣6♥, A♠J♦5♣)
On the heavy/dry boards like A♦K♣6♥ and A♠J♦5♣, the way stacks get in the middle is typically when two strong made hands collide, because there aren’t many draws to semi-bluff with. For instance, the only reasonable draw you can have on A♦K♣6♥ is the inside wrap (QJT), which is a fairly specific hand combination.
The defining feature of a heavy board is the presence of broadway cards, and one of the main distinctions between a heavy board and a light board is the prevalence of sets. Most players raise, limp, or call with all combinations of big pairs, so when players shovel money into the pot, it’s normally with top two pair or better on the heavy/dry boards. You can also imagine how the action (as well as players ranges), is altered depending on what the pre-flop action is. For example, this board hits most three-bet ranges, but it doesn’t hit a wide late position opening range nearly as much. So when reading the board and considering a bluff, the goal is to keep other player’s pre-flop ranges as well as your own in mind.
If you’re confused by the terminology, or don’t know how to differentiate between the heavy, light, wet or dry boards, then here’s another way to look at it. Looking at the board, simply ask yourself, “How many hands have decent equity against the nuts here?” The nuts on dry and heavy boards generally have a ton of equity. On the other hand, the nuts on wet/heavy boards generally have less equity versus stack-off ranges. You’ll get a better feel for this as we make it through the rest of the chapter.
Example #2: Heavy/Wet Boards (e.g. J♦T♠6♦, A♣T♥9♣)
Heavy/wet boards have a different dynamic than the heavy/dry boards because there are many hands with equity to semi-bluff with. In single-raised pots on the heavy/dry boards, players generally c-bet the flop and try to get to showdown cheaply, because there are few medium strength hands willing to play for more than two streets of betting, nor are there many hands to barrel as a semi-bluff with. On heavy/wet boards, it’s rare to have no equity, so players are more likely to semi-bluff and bet for protection instead of trying to get to showdown cheaply.
On heavy/wet boards like J♦T♠6♦,A♣T♥9♣ and K♥J♦8♥, the nuttiness of your draw is extremely important when playing for stacks. On these boards, stacking off with a dominated flush or straight draw will cost you money. To be specific, hands like bare non-nut wraps, or bottom set with no redraws have little value on these boards, especially in multi-way pots.
On J♦T♠6♦, there are many hands with good equity against a set of Jacks. In fact, some hands are favorites versus a bare top set, like A♦K♠Q♥9♦. This is why in multi-way pots, middle set and bare top two pair don’t fare well against the typical ranges willing to play for stacks. This helps explain why it’s important to have supporting sidecards or secondary equity when playing pocket pairs that flop sets on draw-heavy boards.
Example #3: Light/Dry Boards (e.g. 9♦4♠2♣, J♣7♦3♥, 5♦4♥2♠)
Although these boards and A♦K♣6♥ are both considered “dry”, the main difference is the likelihood of sets on the light/dry boards is greatly reduced, because most players don’t play low pocket pairs nearly as often as the bigger ones.
Similarly, ranges usually don’t flop two pair on disconnected boards, which is why overpairs have a lot of value on boards like this, especially with low SPRs. That being said, it definitely depends on the rank of your overpair, since a hand like bare JJ** on 9♦4♠2♣ is in very bad shape against a bigger overpair. Generally, these boards are great for situations like three-bet pots holding an overpair. Not only do people fold a lot to your c-bet, you’re also doing very well against stack-off ranges as well.
Since there are few made hands on these board textures, the equities between hands runs closer together. There are a big mix of overcards, random straight draws, and pair plus side cards that have anywhere between 35% and 50% equity against overpairs and other similar hands that are willing to put money in the pot.
Example #4: Light/Wet Boards (e.g. 7♣6♠2♣, 9♦6♠4♦, T♥4♦3♥)
Light/wet boards are similar in the sense that pre-flop ranges don’t hit these boards as strongly as heavier boards, but there is a big difference in the number of straight and flush draws available. Although the likelihood of holding a monster draw is reduced, the majority of hands willing to put money in the pot include a variety of combo draws, such as pair plus flush draws.
Similar to heavy/wet boards,the nuttiness of your combo draw matters a lot when playing for stacks. This is because the odds of holding a set on a light/wet board is very low, and as a result, stack-off ranges are weighted towards combo draws. When stacks aren’t flying across the felt, the action in single-raised pots involves a lot of floating and maneuvering on later streets, particularly by the player in position, who should try to represent whatever the player OOP is unlikely to have. We’ll talk further about these strategies in Chapter 10, titled Post-flop Warfare.
Dynamic vs Static
Earlier, we made the distinction between dynamic boards and static boards. Again, the current nuts on dynamic boards are likely to change by the river, whereas with static boards, the opposite is true. Here are some examples of the varying degrees of dynamic and static boards.
Very Dynamic = A♣T♥9♣, K♥J♠8♥, Q♦T♠6♦
Dynamic = K♠8♦5♠, J♦6♣4♦, 7♣6♥2♣
Static = J♥8♠6♣, A♣K♦9♣, 7♥7♠5♥
Very Static = 8♥5♥2♥, K♦6♣6♠, A♥K♣6♦
The point of this lesson isn’t to teach you everything there is to know about board textures (I’ll leave that job to Mr. Chambers). The point of all of this is to get you in the habit of noticing how different ranges interact with each board texture. I’ve mentioned before how one of the biggest leaks from beginners is being too scared of the nuts, regardless of what the board texture is. In other words, there’s a big difference between being scared of the nuts, and aware of the nuts. Good players are aware of the nuts, but that doesn’t mean they allow someone to scare them into folding the best hand, because they understand how different pre-flop ranges interact with each board texture. For example, when they see a check-raise on a 442r board from an aggressive player, their first instinct isn’t to fold because they’re scared of trip fours. Their first thought is “OK, he doesn’t have trips here very much, so how can I get the most value out of his air?”
The profit on dynamic boards comes from dominating the hand versus range equity match-ups, and getting value with your made hands at showdown, whereas the profit on static boards comes more from bluffing, since opponents don’t flop a piece as often on the static boards. Put more simply, the battle on static boards is won by the players that have their opponent’s tendencies dialed, as well as the flopping frequencies for strong hands.