Skill #5. Evaluating Board Texture – P2: DRY VERSUS WET BOARDS

A dry board is one that has few available draws. K♦7♠2♣, for example, is the quintessential dry board, with no flush or straight draws. And this is also a static board.

But dry and static are not identical. For example, 8♣4♠2♦ is a dry board. But it’s also a dynamic board.

A wet board is one that’s not dry. (I didn’t make these terms up, I promise.) So T♦8♦7♠ is a quintessential wet board because of the flush and straight draws present. It’s also a dynamic board.

Wet boards tend to be dynamic. But some might consider a board like K♦Q♠3♠ wet, but it would only qualify as somewhat dynamic.

I mention these terms because you’ll hear them frequently from other players, writers, and coaches. Personally, I think this dry-versus-wet thing is overdone. I think the static-versus- dynamic distinction is more useful to making good decisions.

Players will tend to find more hands they think are worth calling on the flop and perhaps also the turn, when the board is wet than when it’s dry.

For example, when the flop is K♦7♠2♣, if you bet, and one or more opponents call, they’ll tend to have a king, or sometimes a seven, or a lesser pair. Since relatively few hands fit these criteria, if you bet, you’ll see a fairly high fold rate against a typical 2-5 player.

On the other hand, when the flop is Q♦9♠6♦, if you bet and one or more opponents call, they’ll tend to have a queen, or a nine, or maybe a six, or unimproved pocket pair. The caller can also have a straight draw (open-ended or gutshot), or a flush draw. Any connected hand from K-Q down to 6-5 will have hit something on this flop. Any one-gap hand from A-Q down to 6- 4 will have something on this flop. Any two-gap hand from K-T down to 8-5 will have something on this flop. Any two diamonds will have something on this flop.

Obviously, that’s a large number of hands, all of which can claim to have hit this flop. The thing is, however, that while a large number of hands has hit this flop, very few hands have hit it hard. Nearly all of these hands will feel like they need to improve on the turn to really have something.

The great thing about a Q♦9♠6♦ flop is that the cards that improve most hands are obvious. A ten, for instance, hits nearly everything that called the flop. Say the T♣ comes on the turn, making the board Q♦9♠6♦T♣. Here’s what happens to a few hands that called the flop. Q-J becomes top pair with an open-ended straight draw. T-9 becomes two pair. K-J makes a straight. 9-8 becomes a pair and a double-gutshot straight draw. 8-7 becomes a straight. T-8 becomes a pair and a double-gutshot straight draw. And so forth.

Almost all the hands that called the flop will feel like they improved on a ten turn card.

A deuce or four on the turn is the opposite—it misses nearly every hand.

So here’s how this type of board works. Say you bet a

Q♦9♠6♦ flop and get two calls. The turn brings the 4♣. If you bet, most of the time both opponents will fold. Why? Because the likelihood was that both players hit the flop, but neither hit it hard (with Q-J or better). Since the four completes few likely hands, neither player will feel like they improved, and both are likely to fold to a nice-sized turn bet.

This tends to be true on wet boards that have loosely connected straight possibilities. Boards like K-T-7, Q-T-6, K-9-7, J-8-6, and the like, feature gaps between both the top-and-middle cards, and the middle-and-bottom cards. This makes it easier to flop a gutshot and harder (relatively) to flop open-ended. It also broadens the range of hands that feel they hit the board, but it reduces the overall equity each of these hands has against a strong top-pair or overpair hand.

Truly wet boards like T♦9♦7♠ are trickier if you’re barreling. Many hands will feel like they’ve hit this board. But the hands people make on a flop like this tend to be stronger and with more equity against an overpair. It’s much easier to flop combination hands like a pair plus an open-ended draw, or a straight draw plus

a flush draw on a board like this. Players like to stick with these combo hands to the end. These boards also offer more possibilities for made hands (i.e., J-8 and 8-6 make straights on the flop). All these factors combined make this board tricky to barrel against.

Consider one primary takeaway about dry versus wet boards. On dry boards (and these also include many paired boards like 8- 8-2), if you bet the flop, you can expect a fairly high fold rate (because many hands miss dry flops). But more of the hands that call the flop will want to see it through to the end. So it often makes sense to bet once and give up on these boards. Or, if you bet twice, to give up on the river if called.

On somewhat wet boards like Q-9-6, you shouldn’t even consider betting just once and giving up. You’re so likely to have your first bet called, if you fire that one bluff and give up when called, you’ll burn through money. But these are terrific boards on which to bet twice. You bet the flop, fully expecting to get called. Then you avoid a danger card like a jack, ten, or eight on the turn. If the turn card bricks for this flop, you bluff a nice amount and win more than your share of these kinds of pots.

On very wet boards like T♣9♠7♣, concede the pot if you hold a hand like A♦4♦ that doesn’t connect in any way. So many hands with real equity connect with this board, you should restrict your bluff barrels to those times you hold a hand that also has a piece of the board.

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