By George “The Engineer” Epstein
[Read Part 1] Continuing our review of Thomas M. Green’s unique new book, Texas Hold’Em Poker Textbook...
The Flop (There are 19,600 possible flops). A “sparse” flop—three cards of different ranks, not in sequence and different suits—will occur almost 75 percent of the time.
Approximately 50 percent of flops will be sparse flops that are ace-high, king-high, or queen-high. (Makes your J-J rather shabby!)
If you don’t have an ace in the hole, the probability the flop contains at least one ace is about 23 percent. Since many poker players stay to see the flop with any ace, be concerned if you hold K-K or lower pair and do not flop a set, or make middle or bottom pair. Second-best is costly.
With a pair in the hole, the probability is 72 percent that your hand will not improve on the flop. Making a set on the flop is a long shot; you’ll flop one once for every 8.5 times you’re dealt a pocket pair. That’s why small pairs are best played in multi-way pots with no raises preflop, preferably from a late position, hoping to make a set.
Starting with A-K suited, expect to pair up on the flop about 27 percent of the time (odds are 2.7-to-1 against). (The same applies to any unpaired hole cards.) You could catch two-pair or trips, so the probability of improvement is higher—about 32 percent. The probability of catching four-to-a-flush is approximately 10 percent. But if you happen to flop four to a flush, you can expect to complete you hand 35 percent of the time.
If your holecards are unpaired, unsuited, and non-connectors, the probability of catching a pair on the flop is 27 percent. (That’s why high-ranking starting hands are attractive.) But 67 percent of flops will not improve your hand.
If an ace flops and you don’t have one in the hole, what is the probability an opponent has an ace? With one opponent still in the pot, it’s only about 12.5 percent. With five opponents there’s a 52.1 percent chance someone has an ace, but with eight opponents there’s a whopping 72.3 percent chance of someone else holding an ace. If two aces flop, the probability an opponent holds one decreases substantially. It’s 38.4 percent with five opponents. (Now your unimproved K-K in the hole may still be leading.) Often the flop has two suited cards. If you don’t hold one of that suit, probability is 23.6 percent that one of your five opponents has two cards of that suit for a flush draw. The probability increases to 35.8 percent with eight opponents. So pray to the poker gods that another card of that suit doesn’t fall on the turn or river. The odds are about 1.8-to-1 in your favor.
Sometimes the flop has three cards of different rank, none of which you match. Probability that an opponent has paired is over 50 percent if there are two or more opponents in the hand. Green provides a useful table to convert your outs to probabilities for the turn and river.
Other Key Topics. Assessing your opponents’ likely hands, expected value (EV) and pot odds, poker (card) odds, manipulating the (implied) pot odds, using the pot odds (sizing your bet) to force out an opponent, playing marginal hands, adjusting your play depending on the type of opponents, using betting position and table image, bluffing, and tells.
Also of interest. Green’s observations from tracking poker games broadcast on TV: The best hand on the flop won the pot about 75 percent of the time. (This reinforces our Two-Step concept for being a WINNER!)
Over 10 percent of the time, the best hand was folded before the showdown—bluffed out.
Green’s “textbook” is available through www.poker-textbook.com.
George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners! and Hold’em or Fold’em?—An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and teaches poker at the Claude Pepper Sr. Citizen Center in Los Angeles. Contact George at email@example.com.