People don’t enter the card room to make successful c-bets. They come to win stacks. And that happens when there are flop fireworks — both players hit with strong hands and go to war. This week, Doug Hull discusses how he developed and used Flop Falcon to analyze these spots to find an extra edge.

Featuring: Shaw & Hull

One of the problems with poker analysis software that exists today is that it gives you the equity on the river of all the hands, but we want to be able to look at range vs. range with the filtering of both sides ideas as to what constitutes “hitting the flop”.

It doesn’t do us any good to flop a set against someone who isn’t going to pay us off. When we’re trying to flop a set vs. someone, we want them to hit also. Hull’s Flop Falcon software looks at range vs. range spots on specific flops and breaks it down into four scenarios:

  • Both Players Hit – This is where poker is played, and someone is going to realize their equity, often in a big way.
  • We Hit, They Miss – This is typically not going to be a significant pot unless the opponent bluffs.
  • They Hit, We Miss – Again, not likely to be a big pot for the same reasons as above.
  • We Both Miss – The “first to bet takes it down” type pots, insignificant in size vs. flops when both players hit.

The example Hull often gives is about why it’s profitable to set mine against a nit. A nit does not need to hit the flop, because they already have a hand going into it. You are going to flop your set 13% of the time. You’d rather flop that set vs. a player who already has a hand. Playing versus a LAG or maniac who doesn’t hit the flop hard very often means hitting a set matters less.

What Constitutes “Hitting the Flop”?

The more your opponent thinks something is a hit — for example, if they think middle pair or bottom pair constitutes hitting the flop — the more you’re going to be picking up a lot more equity when you hit, because you’re generally going to have stronger hands and they will give lighter action.

If villain’s hit ratio is very low because they play wide and then it takes a lot to hit the flop, that’s going to be a good c-bet spot. That describes a lot of players who approach the game with a fit-or-fold mentality. They come into pots wide and the vast majority of the time they’re going to be disappointed. Our c-bet is often quite successful versus these players.

Certain hands like baby pocket pairs, when they hit, you’re through the roof with equity. Hands like 10-8 suited have equity in the 30-40% range when they hit, because that’s generally what a flush or straight draw looks like on the flop. Seeing these percentile breakdowns of equity is important for understanding these spots, and Flop Falcon allows you to do this.

How Often Do Flop Fireworks Happen?

There’s going to be a double-hit about 10%-20% of the time, depending on what each player considers to be a hit. That makes sense because both people are going to hit the flop about a third of the time with any given hand. For a lot of people, a hit happens a third of the time. Both players are going to hit 1/3 of 1/3 of the time, which is about 20%.

You might see what looks like a double hit a little more often because people are continuation betting with hands that are not truly a hit, and they get called 1/3 of the time by the other player. Depending on how aggro the c-better is, that value can change.

Different Board Textures

Doug says he’ll bet and c-bet differently on different textures of boards. Unpaired rainbow vs. paired and suited vs. 3 to a straight each have their own dynamics.

Flop Falcon allows you to analyze range on range on any number of specific types of boards. One of the key questions is, “How often does villain hit or miss on this kind of board?”

They do not hit paired unsuited boards nearly as often as other types of common board textures, so your c-bet will work a lot more often. You can visualize this and any other flop in Hull’s software.

Poker is a game of pattern recognition. Breaking down different flops into related families makes you way better prepared.

Ed Miller in his book The Course broke flops down into three categories:

  • Type 1 – If you are bluffing, you’re betting once and shutting down. For example, A- and K-high rag flops.
  • Type 2 – If you’re going to fire at the flop as a bluff, you’re probably going to fire twice. For example, J 8 2 with two to a suit, where players have hit gut-shot draws, open-enders and flush draws.
  • Type 3 – Flops where many or all of the players in the hand have connected with the board in ways that constitute a “hit”. Stacks may be going in.

Common board textures are found under the ‘Basic’ tab in Flop Falcon. Unpaired rainbow is the most common: 33% of flops are unpaired rainbow. That is an enormous family of flops, so breaking it down further is good idea.

Doug breaks it down into A-high unpaired rainbow (because A is in lots of pre-flop ranges), unpaired rainbow with two cards in the middle are connected (because those hit a lot of suited connector hands) and all other unpaired rainbow flops.

Pick up a copy of Flop Falcon to see for yourself how the program builds intuition and edge around poker’s most profitable — and most fun — moments.