Optimal Postflop Play in NLHE 6-max – Part 1

1. Introduction
This is Part 1 of the article series “Optimal Postflop Play in NLHE 6-max” where we’ll study optimal strategies for heads-up postflop play in NLHE 6-max.

We’ll base this article series on:

– Principles from game theory
– The preflop article series “Optimal 3-bet/4-bet/5-bet strategies in NLHE 6-max” parts 1 to 7

This postflop series is a follow-up to the preflop series. We use our default preflop ranges and optimal strategies for 3/4/5-betting and flatting, and move on to postflop play.

In the preflop series we mostly looked at preflop play in heads-up scenarios. Alice raises, and it’s folded to Bob, who 3-bets or flats. All other players fold, and we have a heads-up pot between Alice and Bob. Those times Bob 3-bets in position there is no postflop play, since Alice’s defense strategy against 3-bets is to 4-bet or fold (and when she 4-bets, Bob 5-bets or folds). Those times Bob 3-bets out of position, Alice will flat some 3-bets in position, and there is postflop play. And when Bob flats Alice’s raise in position, there will be postflop play as well.

In this article we’ll discuss optimal postflop strategies (only play on the flop) in the following scenario:

– Alice raises
– Bob flats in position
– All other players fold

This results in a heads-up scenario with Alice out of position in a singly raised pot. In most pots the postflop play will begin with Alice c-betting. Bob now needs a flop strategy that prevents Alice from profitably c-bet bluffing with any two cards on the flop. If Alice automatically makes money by c-betting any two cards as a bluff on any flop, Bob is obviously doing something wrong on the flop.

Bob’s response to Alice’s c-bet follows the now well-known strength principle that we have used throughout the article series:

  • Raising the best hands for value
  • Flatting the c-bet with the best hands not strong enough to raise for value
  • Bluff-raising with some of the best hands that aren’t strong enough to raise for value or flat
  • Fold all other hands

And Bob has to make sure he value raises, flats and bluff raises enough to prevent Alice from profitably c-betting any two cards as a bluff. In an optimal postflop strategy, Bob wants to defend just enough to make Alice’s weakest c-bet bluffs break even.

As we shall see in future articles, Bob might have to let Alice get away with profitable any-two-cards bluffing on some flop textures (extremely dry flops that are hard to hit for Bob’s preflop flatting range, and therefore hard for Bob to defend postflop). But he can make up for this on coordinated flops that hits his flatting range hard. The important thing for Bob is that Alice on average should not be allowed to c-bet any two cards profitably on any flop.

In order to design an optimal flop strategy for Bob against Alice’s c-bets, we need to know a few things:

  • How often does Bob have to defend against Alice’s c-bets?
  • Which hands should he raise for value?
  • Which hands should he flat?
  • Which hands should he bluff raise?
  • What should the value/bluff ratio be for Bob’s raising range?
  • Should Bob slowplay some of his strongest hands instead of raising all of them for value on the flop?

We’ll find the answers to these questions using simple mathematics (the pot odds Alice and Bob are getting on their bets and raises) and common poker sense.

The theory for optimal postflop play heads-up after flatting preflop was given a thorough discussion by Cardrunners instructor Matthew Janda in his Stoxpoker video series“Optimal Positional Flop Play” in 3 parts (this series unfortunately became unavailable when Stoxpoker merged with Cardrunners in 2010). This article is based on the principles laid out in this video series, and I’ll show how I have incorporated the theory into my own NLHE game.

We’ll base all postflop situations on the preflop ranges and preflop theory discussed in the article series “Optimal 3-bet/4-bet/5-bet strategies in NLHE 6-max” parts 1 to 7. We will mainly talk about “core strategy” where we use tight preflop ranges that are easy to work with theoretically. This will give us a general knowledge about optimal postflop play, and with a little work we can easily adapt and apply this knowledge to the ranges we’re using in practice.

The work done in this postflop article is less suited for memorization and direct application at the felt. The reason is the vast amount of possible outcomes we have when a preflop range meets a random flop. Therefore, our goal is not to memorize everything, but to design a training method for postflop play.

First we learn all the theoretical principles we need. Then we sit down with pen and paper and train postflop strategies by studying how we should play our preflop range on various flops. For each particular flop, we write out our complete flop strategy. By repeating this process over and over on many different flop textures, patterns will begin to emerge, and the thought processes will become more and more automatic. Through repetition we will slowly build knowledge and feel for how to play on different flop types.

So the purpose of our work is to define the necessary theory, plus design a training method that you can work with on your own. The more you practice postflop play away from the table, the faster you’ll learn, and the better your understanding of optimal postflop play will become. As a bonus, you will get a much better understanding of your own default preflop ranges, and how these interact with flops.

In Part 1 we’ll go through the necessary theory for defending optimally against a c-bet after flatting a raise in position preflop. We choose the scenario where Alice raises her default ~15% UTG range and Bob flats on the button with the default flatting range “IP flat list” used throughout the preflop article series. Then we pick an example flop and discuss how Bob should play his preflop flatting range postflop on that particular flop texture.

We’ll continue this work in Part 2 where we’ll talk about play on coordinated flops versus uncoordinated flops, and how Bob’s postflop strategy is a function of how draw-heavy the flop is (which determines how many hands Bob should slowplay). We will also talk about how Alice’s open-range influences Bob’s postflop strategy (since Alice’s various open-ranges hits different flops in different ways).

2. The necessary theory and mathematics
The scenario we’ll use to illustrate postflop theory throughout this article is defined by the following preflop and postflop models:

2.1 Preflop model
Alice (100 bb) openraises pot (3.5 bb) with her 15% UTG range, defined in the preflop series’ Part 2:

Alice’s ~15% UTG range:

A9s+ AJo+
KTs+ KQo

194 combos

Bob (100 bb) flats her raise on the button with his default “IP flat list”, found in the overview over optimal 3/4/5-bet strategy pairs with the raiser out of position, defined in Part 2 of the preflop series:

Download link for this table in document form (right click and choose “save as”):

When Alice raises from UTG, Bob flats QQ/AK on the button, so his “IP flat list” for this scenario is:

Bob’s “IP flat list versus ~15% UTG range:

ATs+ AJo+
KTs+ KQo

162 combos

Both blinds fold, and Alice and Bob sees a flop in a 3.5 bb (Alice’s raise) + 3.5 bb (Bob’s call) + 1.5 bb (the blinds) =8.5 bb heads-up pot. Both players have 96.5 bb remaining stack.

2.2 Postflop model
Next we’ll outline the theory for our estimate of en optimal postflop strategy for Bob. Alice c-bets the flop, and Bob’s response is to raise some hands for value, raise some hands as a bluff, flat with some hands, and fold the rest of his hands.

We want to know:

– How often does Bob have to defend on the flop?
– Which value/bluff ratio should he use for his flop raising range?

We’ll not discuss how Bob should play the turn and river, and we’ll look at flop strategy only. Alice c-bets, and Bob’s response is to raise, flat or fold. We want to know how often Bob has to defend on the flop to prevent Alice from c-bet bluffing any two cards profitably, which hands he should defend with, and how he should play them (raise or flat) on the flop.

How often does Bob have to defend against Alice’s c-bet?
We’ll assume that Alice’s c-bet is to ~3/4 of the pot, which is 6.5 bb into a 8.5 bb pot. Alice risks 6.5 bb to win 8.5 bb, and her pot odds on a c-bet bluff are 8.5 : 6.5. If she wins more than 6.5/(8.5 + 6.5) =43%, her bluffs become automatically profitable.

So we conclude:

Bob needs to defend 100 – 43 =57% of the time against Alice’s c-bets to prevent her from having an automatically profitable bluff with any two cards

Bob defends with a combination of value raising (his best hands), bluff raising (some of the best of his weakest hands), and flatting (good hands that are not good enough to raise for value). Note that when Bob flats, he lets Alice freeroll flops with her bluffs. So in practice, Bob should defend a bit more than 57% overall to compensate for this.

As in the preflop series, “value raising” means raising with the intent of getting all-in when Alice 3-bets or calls. Of course we can change our mind, for example when bad cards come on the turn or river. But as a starting point, Bob’s plan with a value hand is to commit his stack when Alice does not fold to his raise. For example, he can have a made hand strong enough that he will happily get all-in on the flop when 3-bet, or keep betting for value on the turn when called (for example, a set). Or he could have a monster draw (for example, a nut flush draw with two overcards and a gutshot) that can get profitably all-in on the flop when 3-bet, while having profitable semibluffing opportunities on many turn cards when called.

The next question is:

What is the optimal value/bluff ratio for Bob’s flop raising range?
Alice c-bets 6.5 bb into a 8.5 bb pot. We now assume Bob’s flop raise is about 1/2 pot, or 17 bb. And we assume that when Alice 3-bets, she also reraises to 1/2 pot, or 34 bb.

Alice now risks 27.5 bb more (34 bb minus her 6.5 bb c-bet) to win a 32 bb pot (8.5 bb flop pot + Alice’s 6.5 bb c-bet + Bob’s 17 bb raise). Her pot-odds on a 3-bet bluff becomes 32 : 34, and she needs to win 34/(32 + 34) =52% to have an automatically profitable 3-bet bluff. Bob can’t allow this, so he needs to defend 48% against her 3-bets. So 48% of his flop raising range should be for value. We round this to 50% to keep things simple.

We conclude:

50% of Bob’s flop raises should be for value, and 50% should be bluffs

Note that Bob can get away with a bit more bluffing in practice, since Alice sometimes calls his raise and lets him freeroll turn cards. When Alice calls his flop raise, Bob’s bluffing hands get a chance to either bluff profitably on some turn cards (if Alice signals more weakness by checking to him on the turn), or improve to the best hand on the turn. For example, if Bob elects to raise a gutshot straight draw as a bluff on the flop (a typical bluff raising hand, since it’s too weak to raise for value or call for implied odds with 100 bb stacks), he will hit his draw about 10% of the time on the turn those times Alice calls and lets him see a turn card with his bluff.

Having an extra 10% chance to win the pot on the turn does not sound like much, but it will increase the EV of Bob’s bluff raise significantly. So when we raise the flop as a bluff, we never use completely worthless hands, but the best hands among those that are too weak to raise for value or flat. Hands with two overcards, gutshots, and backdoor draws are fine for this purpose. Picking our bluff raising hands from the hands with such bits and pieces of equity also randomizes our bluff raises, in addition to giving us an escape hatch those times our bluff raises get called.

We found the value/bluff ratio to be 50% by calculating how often Bob needs to defend against Alice’s 3-bet. But Alice can also flat his raise. One can use mathematics and assumptions to show (and Matthew Janda did this in his video series) that Bob can increase his bluffing percentage to 60% on flops where he expects Alice to mostly call his raises. But we will keep things simple and use a 50/50 value/bluff ratio on all types of flops. This is easy to remember and relatively easy to apply in practice after a bit of training away from the felt.

3. A training method for learning optimal flop play after flatting in position preflop
We now have a simple theory for Bob to use when defending optimally against Alice’s c-bets after flatting heads-up in position preflop:

  • Bob needs to defend at least 57% against Alice’s c-bet, using a combination of value raising, bluff raising and flatting
  • Bob uses a 50/50 ratio of value hands to bluffs for his flop raising range
  • Bob uses the strength principle to determine which hands goes into which range:
    • Raise the best hands for value
    • Flat the best hands not strong enough to raise for value
    • Bluff raise some of the best hands not strong enough to flat
    • Fold his weakest hands

3.1 A method for training Bob’s flop strategy against Alice’s c-bets after flatting in position preflop
Unlike the preflop strategies defined in our preflop series, we can’t write out our postflop strategies once and for all, since we play our range differently on different flops. In theory we could write out a set of rules for how to play on all possible flops, but in practice we have to limit ourselves to a set of qualitative guidelines. For example, we have already defined one such guide line in the strength principle. So our approach to learning optimal flop play against Alice’s c-bets is:

We’ll train the flop strategy by defining a step-by-step process, and then repeat this process over and over on various randomly generated flops:

Below is our method:

  • Bob begins by counting the number of hand combinations (combos) in his range, given the cards he can see on the board
  • Then he calculates of many combos he needs to defend (57% of all his hands)
  • He picks a value range from his best combos (string made hands and monster draws). Then he also knows how many bluff combos he needs (number of bluff combos =number of value combos), and how many hands he raises in total
  • Then he adds flatting combos from the hands a bit too weak to raise for value (for example, medium strong one pair hands, flush draws, straight draws, god overcard hands) so that he ends up with 57% total defense
  • Finally, he picks his bluff combos from the best hands not good enough to use as flats. Bob then picks hands with various weak equity components like overcards, gutshots, and backdoor draws.

When Bob has gone through this process on a particular flop, he has learned how to play his preflop flatting range on precisely this flop (and only this flop). But this knowledge can be generalized.

For example, if you have worked your way through your flop strategy on the flop Q J 6 , you should have a pretty good idea about how to play any flop with two coordinated high cards, one uncoordinated low card, and a flush draw (for example, K J 4 , J 9 3 , etc).

And similarly, the work on a 8 8 2 flop can be generalized to other very dry flops with one low pair and another low card (for example 5 5 3 , 2 2 7 . etc.).

Therefore, by working through many different flop types, we’ll slowly but surely build knowledge about classes of flop textures and how our preflop flatting range should be played against Alice’s c-bet on these flop texture classes. Then, for each flop texture type, we divide our own range into classes (value raising hands, bluff raising hands, flatting hands). For example, we’ll typically classify hand category “underpair” as calling hands on dry flops (since they will be among our better hands on these flops), but demote underpairs to bluff raising hands or even folding hands on coordinated flops (since we will generally have better hands to use as flatting hands on these flops).

In this article we’ll go through one detailed example of using the training method outlined above. Then we’ll do more work in future articles, and also talk about some important differences between coordinated and uncoordinated flops. But for now we’ll let a flop be a flop, and the only thing we’re interested in right now is to train our understanding of bob’s flop strategy by working through various example flops. So for now we’re following the training method to the letter.

Note that the mystical poker concept “feel”, probably is just this type of understanding built through sheer repetition. You see a situation, and based on similar situations you have found yourself in in the past, you have a pretty good idea about how to play this one.

The flop training we do with the method outlined in this article builds experience, and you will probably notice that your “feel” for heads-up flop play in position improves noticeably after a while, even if you aren’t always able to articulate your thoughts. For example, you could “feel” that raising your gutshot + backdoor flush draw is the best play, and then you execute your strategy. And if you want to, you can always sit down and analyze your play away from the table later, using the principles for optimal flop play you have learned in this article.

3.2 An example of designing an optimal flop strategy for Bob
We go to Flopgenerator.com and generate a random flop:L

Then we work our way through the training method, step by step:

How many combos are there in Bob’s range on the flop
Previously in this article we found that Bob’s “IP flat list” has 162 combos after flatting an UTG raise by Alice:

ATs+ AJo+
KTs+ KQo

162 combos

This changes a bit when the flop comes, since we now have to take card removal effects into consideration. For example, Bob no longer has four combos of JTs in his range (J T , J T , J T , and J T ) since the J is on the board. Bob now loses one JTs combo (J T ).

It’s not too complicated to do card removal adjustments manually, but the simplest way is to plug Bob’s “IP flat list” into ProPokerTools together with the flop, and then use the “count” function:

Bob’s preflop flatting range is reduced from 162 to 144 combos on this particular flop. Note that the flop cards are listed as “dead cards” in the output, and that the original number of combos in the preflop range (162) is given as “Base count”.

How many combos does Bob need to defend on the flop against Alice’s c-bet?
Bob needs to defend 57% of his range (we’re ignoring the effect of Alice freerolling some flops), which is 0.57 x 144 =82 combos. He does not yet know which combos to play and how to play them, but he knows that he should use one bluff combo for every value combo.

The next step of the process is:

Which hands should Bob raise for value?
Here it’s important to think about which hands we’re raising for value against. In general, we can say that made hands two pair and better are always value hands, together with true monster draws (flush draw + straight draw, flush draw + top pair, nutflush draw + any pair, nutflush draw + two overcards, etc), but it’s not certain that all top pair/overpair hands are strong enough to raise for value

Which top pair/overpair hands that can be played profitably for value (planning to get all-in if Alice plays back at us) depends on:

– Alice’s openrange
– The flop texture

Against a tight openrange, our marginal top pair/overpair hands go down in value, since the raiser will now have a larger percentage of better overpairs in his range than if he had openraised a wide range (for example, there is a bigger probability Alice has AA in her range when she openraises a 15% UTG range than when she openraises a 25% CO range). But against a wide openraising range, our good-but-not-great one pair hands go up in value.

We will not continue this line of thinking in this article, since our goal here is to train a simple method for learning flop play. But in the next article we’ll add some “polish” to our method. We will then begin thinking about Alice’s range, and how this range connects with the flop, when we choose our own value range.

At any rate, on this flop we might elect to choose our value hands like this (and note that we don’t have any two pair hands in our range on this particular flop, since J9s isn’t in our “IP flat list”):

  • Made hands: Sets, overpairs, and top pair/top kicker (TPTK)
  • Monster draws: Nut flush draw + 2 overcards, flush draw + 2 overcards + gutshot, flush draw + open-ended straight draw

Which gives:

  • Sets: {JJ,99,44} =9 combos
  • Overpair: {QQ} =6 combos
  • TPTK: {AJ} =12 combos
  • Monster draws: {A K , A Q , K Q , Q T } =4 combos
  • Total: 31 combos

Bob now knows that he also needs 31 bluff combos to get a 50/50 value/bluff ratio for his raising range. But before he picks his bluffs, he designs a flatting range. These are the hands that have good equity against Alice’s range, but they are not strong enough to raise for value.

Bob’s raising range will contain 31 + 31 =62 combos when he has picked his bluffs. Since he needs to defend 82 combos in total, he only needs to pick 20 flatting combos to defend exactly 57%. In practice we might want to defend a bit more, but let’s start by picking the 20 best flatting candidates and see where that takes us:

Which hands should Bob use for flatting?
Now we use the strength principle and pick our flatting hands from the tier below the value raising hands. Which hands we pick is of course a matter of equity, but our choice is also influenced by how many combos we need to defend optimally. Remember that the purpose of this work is to train a flop strategy for Bob that defends enough (57%) against Alice’s c-bets. This is not the same as squeezing every bit of value out of our range on the flop.

So we focus more on building sound ranges, and less on how we play particular hands. Some hands are clear value hands (sets on any flop), flatting hands (2nd pair with top kicker on a dry flop), or bluffing hands (a gutshot with an overcard on a draw-heavy flop), while other hands are less clear cut (for example 2nd pair with top kicker on a draw-heavy flop). For the in-between hands we don’t worry much about how we play them, as long as our total strategy meets the requirement of minimum 57% total defense. For example, whether we use 2nd pair/top kicker on a draw-heavy flop as a flatting hand or a bluff raising hand does not matter much to us.

Note that various categories of hands (for example, underpairs) can be assigned different “jobs” on different flops. If we have a large value range on a coordinated flop that hits our preflop flatting range hard (like our example flop here), there might not be room for any underpairs in our flatting range, since we have sufficiently many better hands to use. But on a dry flop that misses our preflop flatting range, we might have to call a c-bet with all our underpairs to get to 57% total defense.

This is logical, also from an equity point of view, since underpairs/low pairs have rather poor equity on average on coordinated flops (like 77 on a Q T 6 flop), and we have many hands with better equity to put in our value and flatting ranges. But on the dry flops where we don’t have draws (and neither does the preflop raiser), we will usually operate with a flop flatting range that contains many underpairs (like 77 on a T 5 2 rainbow flop). On dry flop textures pairs lower than top pair has decent equity against the preflop raiser’s range, and we call more c-bets with them.

Let’s start with the following list of flatting candidates:

  • Made hands: Top pair without top kicker, 2nd pair, underpairs higher than 2nd pair
  • Draws: Any flush draw, nut open-ended straight draw

We list the hands we have in these categories, and then we can remove some of the weakest candidates later. Of course we now have to remember which hands we have already used as value hands (for example, the best flush draws):

  • Top pair without top kicker: {K J , K J , K J , Q J , Q J , Q J , J T ,J T ,J T } =9 combos
  • 2nd pair: {T 9 , T 9 , T 99 8 , 9 8 , 9 8 } =6 combos
  • Underpairs higher than 2nd pair: {TT} =6 combos
  • Draws: {A T , K T , Q TQ T , Q T } =5 combos
  • Total: 26 combos

We find a few more combos than we need (20). we can choose to keep this range and over-defend a bit to compensate for Alice freerolling flops when we flat. In that case we raise 31 + 31 =62 combos and flat 26 combos for 88 combos total. The results in a 88/144 =61% total defense against Alice’s c-bet.

Alternatively, we can choose to use exactly 57% defense, and remove the 6 weakest flatting hands to end up with 20. For example, we can remove {9 8 , 9 8 , 9 8 , Q TQ T , Q T } =6 combos. Note that if we remove these potential flatting candidates, it’s obvious to use them as bluff raising candidates (since these per definition should be hands not quite good enough to flat).

We’ll assume that this is our choice, so we end up with the following flop flatting range:

  • Top pair without top kicker: {K J , K J , K J , Q J , Q J , Q J , J T ,J T ,J T } =9 combos
  • 2nd pair: {T 9 , T 9 , T 9 } =3 combos
  • Underpaid higher than 2nd pair: {TT} =6 combos
  • Draws: {A T , K T } =2 combos
  • Total: 20 combos

The last item on our to-do list is to find the 31 bluff raising combos Bob needs to complete his flop strategy:

Which hands should Bob bluff raise?
We need 31 combos, and they should be picked from the hands a little bit weaker than the flatting hands. We already have 6 candidates here, namely the 6 combos of 2nd pair not quite strong enough to flat:

{9 8 , 9 8 , 9 8 , Q TQ T , Q T } =6 combos

So we need 25 more combos. We don’t have more flush or open-ended straight draws to use, so we can turn to the hand category overcards + weak draws. We have some of these, so we’ll find what we need there. If this hand category isn’t large enough, we can always move down to underpairs (88-22) and pick what we need there, but note that we prefer hands with as many outs as possible when we’re bluffing.

For example, a naked underpair like 5 5 has only 2 outs, while the overcard hand A T could have as much as 8 outs(6 pair-outs, some of them clean, backdoor nut flush draw, backdoor straight draw). So A T is a better bluff raising candidate than 5 5 .

Here are some potential candidates of the type overcards + weak draw:

– All remaining AK with backdoor flush draw
– All remaining AQ with backdoor flush draw
– ATs with backdoor nut flush draw
– All remaining KQ with backdoor flush draw
– All remaining KTs with backdoor flush draw

In other words, we bluff raise:

{A K , A K , A K , A K , A K , A K , A K , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A Q , A T , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K Q , K T } =23 combos

2 less than the 25 overcard bluffs we need. If we want to be very precise we need to pick two more, for example two KQ combos without backdoor flush draws. But in practice we will not be able to design such precise ranges at the table, so we will not bother doing it here. In general, we want to avoid playing hands of the same type (like KQ combos without backdoor flush draws) in different ways like flatting 2 of them and folding the rest). At the table we will think like this: “I raise all AK with backdoor flush draw, all AQ with backdoor flush draw,” etc) and we should be satisfied if we get the value/bluff ratio approximately correct in the heat of battle.

Summary of Bob’s flop strategy
We have now designed a complete defense strategy for Bob against Alice’s c-bets on the flop J 9 4 . This was a lot of work for only one flop, and when the work is done we should generalize our results.

We can start by classifying the flop according to its type, and use it as a reference/template for playing similar flops. We might choose to call it “MMx (two-tone)” to describe it as a flop with two coordinated medium cards (J and 9) plus a blank (4) with a 2-flush (two clubs).

Our strategy on this MMx (two-tone) flop was:

  • Raise overpairs and TPTK for value, together with monster draws
  • Flatting top pair without top kicker, underpairs above 2nd pair, and the best 2nd pair hands, together with the remaining flush draws
  • Bluff raising with the weakest 2nd pair hands, the open-ended straight draws without a flush draw, and the best overcard hands with backdoor flush draws

This generalization, formulated with words and not lists of ranges, is useful to remember. When you are playing, you will only have time to formulate your flop strategy in this manner, but that is good enough for our purposes. By systematically working your way through various flop types like we did here, you will see patterns emerging. The general shapes of your value, bluff, and flatting ranges on different flop textures will become clearer and clearer with practice.

For example, based on our example you now know that on flops similar to J 9 4 two overcards with a backdoor flush draw and/or a gutshot will typically be bluffing hands. The same goes for weak open-ended straight draws (those without flush draws) and some of the marginal one pair hands.

Work through lots of flops, and this type of generalized knowledge will slowly become feel/intuition, or whatever you want to call it. You can generate flops with Flopgenerator.com, or you can pick flops from hands you have played.

When I trained this method, I marked a couple of flatting-heads-up-in-position spots in HoldemManager for every session I played. After the session I worked through the flop strategy to see if I had played my particular hand correctly according to the optimal overall strategy. Acquiring a good feel for positional flop play was surprisingly easy. It’s only a matter of repetition, repetition, repetition.

4. Summary
We have now embarked on a series of articles about optima postflop play. We begun with a study of the scenario where Bob flats Alice’s raise in position, sees a flop heads-up, and has to defend on the flop against Alice’s c-bet

We started by determining how often Bob needs to defend against Alice’s c-bets to prevent her from c-betting profitably with any two cards. Then we defined a method for finding Bob’s ranges for value raising, bluff raising and flatting on the flop. This method is easy to learn, even if the resulting strategies are too complicated to memorize afterward. So I recommend that you memorize the method, use it to train a lot on various flop textures, and then generalize your strategies for different type of flops.

The method we have defined so far is simple, and we have ignored some things. One important factor we have ignored is Alice’s openrange, and how her various openranges hits various flop types. For example, defining all top pair/top kicker hands as value hands on all flops is a decent starting point, but we might have to demote some of them to flatting hands when Alice starts out with a tight openraising range (a tight openrange increases the likelihood of her having a better pair than us).

We will discuss these things in more detail in “Optimal Postflop Play in NLHE 6-max – Part 2”.

Good luck!
Bugs – See more at: http://en.donkr.com/Articles/optimal-postflop-play-in-nlhe-6-max—part-1-750#sthash.vQZoUCMJ.dpuf


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