It takes five cards to make a hand in Texas Hold’em. But you only get dealt two cards. Sometimes, that’s all you need to win a hand, if you can get everyone else to fold pre-flop. It happens quite often in Hold’em, definitely more so compared to Omaha or Omaha Hi/Lo. But once the flop hits, you and your opponent(s) have the necessary five cards at your disposal. Now everyone’s got a little somethin’ somethin’ to work with.

One of the most important things to learn in poker – and one of the trickiest to get right – is how to read the flop. When those three community cards hit the board, it’s not enough to know how they improved your hand. You also need to think about how they improved your opponents’ hands. Top players will spend countless hours working on this part of their game. Fortunately for the rest of us, a few quick pointers will get us at least halfway there, if we can wrap our heads around the basic concept.

Static Cling

When poker players talk about the flop, they talk about texture. They’re talking about what kind of cards are on the board. Is it a disconnected board with three suits, like Queen-Seven-Deuce rainbow? That’s a dry flop, or better yet, a static flop. Boards like that usually don’t help anyone make any draws, so if you were ahead before the flop, you’re probably still ahead and likely to stay that way. Is it a draw-heavy board like Jack-Ten-Eight with two Spades? That’s a wet flop, or better yet, a dynamic flop. The player who’s in front might change on every street.

Once you understand this static/dynamic concept, you can start making better decisions on the flop. On a static board, you can do things like check back when you’re in position with a made hand, hoping your opponent will bluff the turn and river with a draw that doesn’t complete. On a dynamic board, you can raise in position with a weaker draw like a gutshot, hoping your opponent will fold a made hand. If she calls, you might complete your draw on the turn; even if you don’t, you can still put pressure on your opponent by double-barreling. Try reading flops this way the next time you play at Bodog Poker, and you’ll be one step ahead of your competition.