Post-Flop Calling Strategy

The best line of play for a short stack after the flop is almost always to either raise or fold. However, there are certain occasions in which a passive line can prove to be profitable. Here are a few of the circumstances in which I may make a post-flop call:

It is not profitable to reraise, and you have direct odds.
You have reasonable implied odds, and reverse implied odds is not an issue.
Your opponent c-bets a wide range but does not barrel often, thus setting up a profitable float. You have a near invulnerable hand, and your opponent c-bets and barrels a wide range.

Calculating Direct Pot Odds

In Chapter 4, you learned about the rule of 4 and 2 and now know how to figure out your chances of making a hand on the turn or river. In order to determine whether you have the direct odds to profitably call, you must first figure out your pot odds. You then turn your chance of making your hand into a ratio. If the chance of hitting your hand is greater than the odds to call, then it is profitable to do so.

For example, let’s say your opponent shoves $5 into a $10 pot on the flop, and you are holding a flush draw with 9 outs. You have to call $5 to win $15, and thus are getting 3 to 1 on your money. By applying the rule of 4 to the 9 out flush draw you get 36%, which is better than 3 to 1 when converted into a ratio, thus making the call profitable.

Most situations will not involve facing shoves on the flop. When applying the rule of 2 to the next street, it is unusual to ever have the correct direct odds to make a call unless your opponent severely under bets. Almost always, you will need to have something else going for you. In order to justify a call, you will have to have some hope of making more money than is currently in the pot. This is where implied odds comes in.

Post-Flop Implied Odds

In order for calls without direct odds to be worthwhile, your opponent needs to have a decent likelihood of being willing to put more money in the pot should you make your hand. For example, flush draws are typically not the best implied odds hands, as it is pretty obvious when that third flush card hits that someone may have just made a flush. Even weak players recognize this.

The ideal implied odds hand is one that will not be so obvious should it hit. Straight draws,

especially gut shots, are much more disguised when they connect. Someone with two pair or better will not likely be too worried if a non-board pairing, non-flush blank card comes in.

You should not be relying on implied odds with one pair hands hoping to hit two pair or pocket pairs looking to hit a set on the next card. Stick to holdings that have clean outs and will most likely get you paid off when they complete. Otherwise, unless the direct odds are there, folding or raising are better options.

Reverse Implied Odds After The Flop

Reverse implied odds often affect post-flop calling decisions. For example, let’s say you hold 45 on a 78K board and are considering a call with your gut shot straight draw. You face a bet and a call on the flop and are getting a decent implied price to see another street. Here is the problem. One of your opponents could easily be holding T9 or 95 on this board. If a 6 falls and the money goes in, a certain percentage of the time you will be beaten by a better straight.

Another situation that comes up frequently is holding a straight draw on a two-tone board. Sometimes you will make your straight while someone else makes a flush. The key to avoiding a reverse implied odds calling mistake is to always make sure that none of your outs are dirty and that your draw is to the nuts. Sometimes it is okay to stray from this notion, but you will have to discount your outs when calculating the odds. In other words, if you hold a straight draw on a two-tone board, you must remove two of the potential cards as outs. So instead of having 8 outs, you now only have 6.

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