The poker odds calculators on CardPlayer.com let you run any scenario that you see at the poker table, see your odds and outs, and cover the math of winning and losing poker hands. Texas Hold'em Omaha. Pre Flop Poker Hand Ranking; Top 10 Preflop Poker Hands; Top Poker Hands Preflop; Hand Guide: Preflop Flop Turn River. Texas Holdem Heads-Up Preflop Odds. This table was created by enumerating through every possible board and opponent hole card combination for each of the 169 texas holdem preflop starting hands. The numbers are exact to.
How to Play Poker When There is a Raise Ahead of You
When someone raises before you act in No-Limit Hold’em – also known as a pre-flop raise – you have three choices. You can re-raise, fold or choose to flat call. This page looks in-depth at the third option – calling someone’s pre-flop raise and playing poker from there.
Vegas nfl spreads this week. As you’ll see below, there are a lot of factors to consider before using a flat call. These include your cards, table image, depth of your stack and position at the table. Each factor will be discussed in turn, with the maths of your different options assessed.
Here is what you will find below:
Flat-Calling and Implied Odds
If you have a good poker hand, you’ll often (though not always) be re-raising before the flop. Since most of the time you will have a good, though not great hand, implied odds become an important factor.
This describes a spot where you might not have the best hand at the time you make the call – though you can win a lot of money on later streets if you do improve. The classic example would involve a small pair.
A pre-flop flat call is a useful strategy for even poker pros like Phil Ivey.
Let’s use an extreme example to illustrate. The tightest opponent you ever met raises under the gun. You somehow know that he has pocket aces. You are on the button with a pair of 5’s. You know you’re behind, and that raising here would result in an all-in from your opponent.
Instead you call. If the flop has a 5, and no ace, you stand to win your opponent’s entire stack.
Here you did not have the odds to call the pre-flop raise, though your future profit potential more than made up for it. Most of the time, you’ll miss the flop and fold. That one in eight times you flop a 5 make up for this – your implied odds were huge!
Of course, things will not always be this clear cut. The important point here is that when you call, the potential to make money on later streets is a key factor. You might also win the pot when your opponent checks (giving up) and you put in a timely steal. If they are ‘raising light’, you might well already have the best hand.
Primary Reasons to Call Pre-flop
Improving to the best starting poker hand is only one reason you might call before the flop. Here are several other factors that come into making this decision.
- Calling to Trap: You might have pocket aces yourself and know that someone still to act will often re-raise to steal pots. We don’t recommend making a habit of this play (it is too transparent if you do it often). If you mix things up with the occasional trap, you can get a lot of money into the pot pre-flop.
- Taking the Pot on Later Streets: if your opponents are loose and passive, you may have many opportunities to ‘float’ on the flop. This scenario involves calling pre-flop, then calling another bet on the flop – even if you don’t hit. Many opponents will give up on the turn when they hit resistance. If you choose your spots, you can win a mid-sized pot with a bet from position.
- Defending Your Button: Late position players will raise with a wide range of hands. If you have the dealer button position, you can make their lives difficult with the occasional flat-call. This is particularly effective when the flop contains lower cards, which are more likely to have hit a caller’s range than those of a raiser.
- The Raiser is Loose: Sometimes you’ll face opponents that raise almost every time with a huge range. This can include any ace, junky suited hands and more. With a good, though not premium hand you could choose to call here. After the flop, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand.
- Implied Odds: Some hands work better heads-up against a single opponent, others work better multi-way. If the stacks are deep, your implied odds can be big.
Best Types of Hands to Flat Call a Pre-Flop Raise With
Many of the situations covered above rely on position – and detecting when your opponent is weak after the flop to justify your call. There are three types of hands which are ideal candidates for a flat call. These can make monsters after the flop – and win you big pots.
- Suited Aces: Adding the ability to make the nut (highest possible) flush gives you a powerful way to win a big pot. I do not recommend calling with hands like Ace-8 off-suit, though hands Ace-2 to Ace-5 suited have shots at both flushes and straights. Higher suited aces are re-raise candidates.
- Suited Connectors: This category includes hands from 4-5 suited to J-Q suited. They can make both flushes and straights. The real strength of these hands is that you can play them aggressively when you flop strong draws. This gives you multiple ways to win the pot. You will sometimes improve to the best hand, and other times win as a semi-bluff.
- Small / Mid Pairs: Here the strength comes from those times you make a set on the flop. If your opponent(s) are tight, then you can win a lot of money those times they incorrectly believe that the flop is safe for their aces.
You could also add suited Broadway hands and ace-jack / ace-queen off-suit to this list. Those are more dependant on the table dynamic and table image. If you are unsure of your post-flop skills, it is usually better to either take the lead in the hand by raising or ditch those hands pre-flop.
How Table Position Affects Your Pre-flop Flat Call Range
Not only your own position, but the position of the player that raised needs to be factored in before you call pre-flop.
If the raiser is in early position – and a thinking player – their raising range is likely to be strong. If you are sat on their immediate left, then there will still be a lot of players still to act. Here re-raising looks very strong, and even calling should involve a stronger hand range than from later position. Those implied odds hands covered above can’t stand a 3-bet from later position and become too risky in this setup at all but the most passive (‘call-heavy’) games.
If you are in later position, especially on the button, and the raise comes from early position – then the implied odds hands go up in value. With the raiser having a narrow / strong range, they will be more reluctant to fold to a single bet on a ‘safe’ flop. If you are in the blinds facing an early position raise, then you need to factor in the fact that you are out of position before you consider a call. It is hard to get full value when you act first on the flop, turn and river.
Raises from middle position should be with a wider range of hands. This improves your ability to take the pot on later streets, even when you miss the flop – since your opponent will not always have a hand which can withstand pressure.
If the raise comes from the button or cut-off position and you are in the blinds, a different dynamic applies. Here the raiser will often have a wide range. While this might mean you have the best hand more often, it also means you are less likely to be paid off with those implied-odds type hands. Add being out of position, and many calling hands should be ditched. With many hands, it is better to take the lead (or win the pot right there) with a 3-bet instead.
Best Pre Flop Poker Hands
Calling vs Tight or Loose Opponents
Sometimes an opponent will be the classic loose ‘calling station’. This means they will raise a lot of hands (sometimes oblivious to position), and then call too many bets post-flop with any chance of winning. While calling can win a lot of money, you will often find that re-raising is the better play. You’ll knock out the hands behind you that might have called. If you hit the flop, you can win a lot of money from these players.
Tighter opponents increase your chance of winning a big pot after the flop with the right types of hand. If you miss and they raise, you should often give them credit for a premium hand and get out of the way. If you do spike a set with a small pair (for example), expect to win multiple bets.
Your own table image also comes into play. If you are calling a lot of bets pre-flop, then folding to continuation bets – you are encouraging opponents to open a wider range against you.
If there are loose opponents still to act, you should generally play a narrower range of hands for flat-calls. An active button, that likes to 3-bet when seeing a raise and call can make your life difficult. You are denied the correct odds to call – and would have to play out of position for the rest of the hand.
Stack-Depth Factors and Pre-Flop Calling Hands
Cards worthy of a flat call when faced with a pre-flop raise.
When considering a call, the amount of money you can win on future streets is a primary factor. If either you or the raiser has a shallow stack – for example 20x the big blind – then you do not have the correct odds to call with your implied odds hands. In fact, calling both pre-flop and on the flop will make the pot so big that you are probably committed to call bets on later streets.
With very deep stacks of 200x the big blind or more, certain hands shoot up in value. Those suited aces and suited connectors can now win huge pots after the flop – and can be played more often. Conversely, vulnerable hands like Ace-9 or K-10 off-suited go down in value. These hands are easily dominated, making it difficult to know where you stand after the flop. This means that have ‘reverse implied odds’ – you could lose a big pot those times you do hit the flop, and someone else hits it better.
If there is a short-stack still to act, then you have another type of risk. For example, someone with 100x the big blind opens, and you call (also with 100x) with a small pocket pair. A player nursing a 10x stack then goes all-in behind you, and the original raiser folds. Here you have huge odds to make the call – though would have preferred not too, as you won’t have the best hand most of the time.
When to Flat Call Pre-Flop in Poker Tournaments
All of the factors covered above apply as much to tournaments as they do to cash games. There are also some extra considerations for tournament poker. These arise from the generally lower standard of strategy knowledge for tournament players, stack size differences and bubble dynamics.
In the early stages of poker tournaments, pots will be contested by more players than in cash games. You can call a raise before the flop, only to see 2 or 3 other players also flat call. When you see the flop 5 handed, you’ll need to hit it hard to have a shot at winning the pot. This improves the value of hands like small pairs and suited aces. It significantly reduces the value of high card hands (even as good as Ace-Queen). Many poker experts recommend a flat call only from position in small stakes poker tournaments – and choosing hands which can hit hidden monsters.
When you get to the middle stages, with bigger blinds, there will be a huge range of stack sizes at your table. Some players will have 100x stacks, others will be 10x or so – with many in that comfort-zone in between. If you want to flat call, you need to take stack depth into consideration first. While you might have great implied odds against a deep stack, a small stack behind you is a big risk. Instead of using a flat call, you should raise more often. This keeps the pressure on your opponents. It works well against those comfortable mid-sized stacks, who will often decide to look for a better spot.
The bubble of a poker tournament sees most players tighten up – and the big stacks go on the rampage, stealing as many pots as possible. When a small or medium stack raises, they usually have a good hand (otherwise they would not take the risk). A flat call is not recommended. Instead, you should be looking to chip-up – taking the lead in the hand whenever possible.
The Strongest Poker Hands – Before and After the Flop
Before the flop is dealt, the strongest hands are easy to spot. Aces, Kings and Queens top the list – with Ace-King not far behind.
The relative strength of poker hands in Texas Hold’em changes as the community cards are dealt. While all sorts of starting hands can hit the flop, there are certain categories which are more likely to turn into hidden monsters.
This page covers the top 10 poker hands, before the flop – and then all the way to the river. This includes:
- Starting Hands: Top 10 hands that every play would love to be dealt before the flop
- Flop Betting: How the first 3 community cards have a huge effect on the ‘relative’ strength of the bet pre-flop hands.
- Turn and River: Draws can complete, or high cards can hit as the community card board is completed.
- Top Hands and Position: Why being dealt a top 10 poker hand alone is not enough to win big.
- How to Tell: If you can spot those times an opponent has a monster hand, you’ll be in a great position top get away from 2nd best holdings.
Starting Hands: The Top 10 Hands Before the Flop
Pocket Aces rule the rankings before the flop. If you are dealt this hand, you’ll win 80% of the time against any single hand your opponent could hold by the river.
Here are the top 10 hands pre-flop in Texas Hold’em:
- Pocket Aces: There is no better feeling in Hold’em than looking down at a pair of aces. Especially if there has been a raise ahead of you.
- Pocket Kings: With aces so rare, it is usual to assume that your pocket kings are the best hand pre-flop. You can always reassess if you face multiple re-raises. With no aces on the flop, you can hope to win a big pot with this hand.
- Pocket Queens: There is a risk that opponents have aces, kings or ace-king when you are dealt Queens. With no ‘card removal’ for those hands as when you are dealt A-A or K-K. Pocket Queens is still a very strong hand and should be played for a raise.
- Ace-King: This hand is even stronger when suited, though plenty strong enough with just the high card value. If you make a pair on the flop, you will have the top kicker to go with your top-pair.
- Pocket Jacks: As you get down the rankings, even strong starting hands start to become vulnerable to over-cards on the flop. Jacks are often good enough to win unimproved, though you need to be cautious when an ace hits the board.
- Ace-Queen: Again, a suited version is much stronger than an unsuited one – as you’ll be able to make the nut flush on occasion. This hand becomes stronger if your opponents are prone to overplaying aces with weaker kickers.
- Pocket 10’s: This is the last pocket pair which is more likely than not to be an over-pair on the flop. It has hidden value, blocking straights and allowing you to hit a set (as with all smaller pairs) on boards which look ‘safe’ for the higher pairs.
- King Queen Suited: This hand has a lot of potential multi-way. Heads up against one of the premium hands, it does not do as well. If you find yourself with king-queen suited in position in a multi-way pot, you can often make a hidden monster and win a big pot.
- Ace-Jack / Ace-Ten: These hands are vulnerable, though suited versions can make the nut flush, if you don’t make 2 pairs, there is always a chance of a Broadway straight.
- Mid-Pairs: Finally, mid-pairs can make sets – giving them a lot of deceptive strength. When someone has aces, and bets strongly, you can often win their whole stack with a hidden pair or 7’s (for example).
Relative Strength of Poker Hands on Different Flops
Key to success in poker is not to get married to the top 10 starting hands after the flop. There are several factors to consider. While you can often assume that your premium starting hand is still best (and bet it accordingly), a clear assessment of the risks is always useful.
When you see a flop, think about the following:
Poker Hands Pre Flop
- How many opponents saw this flop (what is the risk that some random hand connected!)?
- Does this flop have the potential to hit many drawing hands (straights and flushes)?
- Is this the type of flop that will not connect with hands my (tight) opponents are likely to play (low, unconnected flops fit this category)?
- Are there cards on the board which are higher than my pocket pair?
These questions highlight an error that many new players make with premium hands. If you limp or call, instead of raising with those aces – you can end up in a tricky spot. You could see a wet flop (lots of potential draws available) with multiple opponents who might have random holdings. If you have to act first in the betting, the situation looks even trickier. Here your hand is too strong to give up on, though if you get a lot of action on subsequent betting rounds, you could be in trouble!
Playing good hands strongly, and raising a few outside the top 5 for balance, is a great way to avoid too many tough spots on the flop.
Turn and River Cards: How Likely my Opponent Hit?
When the turn or river card completes a flush (for example) and your opponent comes out firing with a big bet, you need to ask yourself how often you are beaten.
The wrong question to ask here is ‘how often do players make flushes by the river?’. You have some additional information. If your opponent called a bet on the flop, or even raised, then they are likely to have some kind of hand. If they continued all the way, only to re-raise you at the end when their card hit – you might just be in trouble.
Getting ‘married’ to over-pairs can be expensive in these situations. What is demonstrates is that even the top 10 starting hands can be losers in certain run-outs. You’ll need to use your judgement to decide whether your opponent might be bluffing in the scenario above. This can be based on the player, their bet sizing in the hand and your history with that opponent. In my experience, players at the smallest stakes are not bluffing frequently enough in this type of spot to make this a profitable call.
Playing the Top 10 Poker Starting Hands in Position
With the dynamics or poker hand strength changing as the community cards come out, playing in position is a great way to optimise your profits. This simply refers to acting last in the betting on the flop, turn and river betting rounds. The player with the ‘Dealer’ button position acts last – though keep in mind that acting last relative to the raiser pre-flop is a different factor.
When you are last to act, you can get away from hands when there is a raise and a re-raise ahead of you. It is always an option to bet out and steal a pot you might otherwise have given up on when everyone checks to you as well.
Position strategy goes a lot deeper than this. When you are starting out, keep in mind that acting last + having a top 10 poker hand is the best spot to be in!
How to Tell If Your Top Hand is Beaten?
Flop Poker Odds
As you gain experience playing on different board-textures, and against different types of opponents – spotting those times when your pocket aces are second best becomes a lot easier.
Poker Pre Flop Strategy Chart
While some opponents keep betting at any pot where they have a piece of the board (or a draw in some cases), other opponents are more cautious. If someone who usually limps and calls suddenly wakes up with big bets, this is a great sign that you could be beaten. I have seen opponents play passively for hours, and suddenly check-raise when they made the top flush. If you pay those types off, it is down to you not paying attention – rather than bad luck.