Paired flops can be quite tricky to play.
All paired boards are different, but there are some general tendencies that you can follow. In this article, I will share 5 tips for playing paired flops.
Given that this is one of the most frequent types of flop (roughly 17% of flops are paired), these tips may have an outsized impact on your win-rate. Let’s begin!
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Tip #1 – Sometimes you should c-bet with your full range in position
There are some paired boards that warrant a very aggressive c-betting strategy as the preflop aggressor.
Take a moment to think which type of paired boards favor the in-position player more. Done?
It’s the boards with a paired broadway card. Some examples are:
A♠ A♥ 8♦
K♣ K♦ 7♥
Q♦ Q♣ 2
J♠ J♦ 4♥
T♥ T 5♣
These boards favor the preflop raiser because this player has more of the stronger broadway hands (think AK, AQ, KQ, etc) compared to the player out of position. After all, the out of position player should be 3-betting many those hands preflop quite frequently.
On these boards as the preflop aggressor in position, it’s a very good idea to start c-betting 100% of your range due to your dominating range advantage (aka equity advantage).
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Tip #2 – Sometimes you shouldn’t c-bet with your full range in position
If paired broadway cards are advantageous for the in-position preflop raiser, you may have already deduced that the middling and lower cards are disadvantageous to the preflop raiser, relatively speaking.
I’m talking about flops such as:
9♣ 9♦ 5♥
7♥ 7♠ 6
5♣ 5♥ 4♠
Although the in-position player retains a large range advantage, the nut advantage is no longer in our favor. The discrepancy between the nut distribution (the strongest hands in a range) becomes more and more prevalent as the paired card rank drops.
When this happens, the player who defended out of position can start check-raising extremely aggressively. By doing so he forces the in-position player to check back a lot of hands that cannot call the check-raise — hands that are better off just checking back and realizing their equity.
The hands that suffer the most from betting and getting raised (thus are most incentivized to check back) are medium-low Ax hands and the strongest Kx hands (such as KQ and KJ). These hands have a little bit of showdown value, they don’t deny much equity, nor do the get much value by betting. So, you should frequently check back with them.
Tip #3 – Check-raise aggressively as the defender
As I was saying in the previous tip, you need to defend aggressively on paired boards when facing aggression from the preflop raiser. Just calling a lot is not enough. The in-position player would get to realize too much of his equity in detriment to your own range’s equity.
The lower the pair, the more you will want to check-raise because the bigger your nut advantage will be. Your raising range will be merged rather than polarized. A merged range consists of some medium-strength hands, so whatever hand you think is good enough to call, you should also raise some of the time.
A concept that you should think about here is vulnerability. The more vulnerable the hand is, the more you want to check-raise it in order to protect its equity.
For example, here is the optimal defense from the Big Blind against a Button open-raising range on 8♥ 8♦ 4♣ after facing a 33% pot c-bet (calculated by PioSolver):
Pink = Raise | Green = Call | Blue = Fold | Grey = Not in Range
You should be calling with 30% of your range and check-raising with another 30% of your range. Notice that the check-raising range includes not only trips (such as A8), but also vulnerable pairs (such as 64s and 55) and bluffs (like 97s).
Failing to defend this aggressively on paired boards can cost you a lot of money in the long run!
Tip #4 – C-bet aggressively out of position when a broadway card is paired
In general, against a tighter cold-calling range, you will want to play very defensive strategies out of position.
However, when the flop has a broadway pair, you should employ a very aggressive c-betting strategy. A c-bet with your entire range is often the right approach.
This is the optimal response because you will have a high nut advantage. This is, again, because the preflop caller lacks those AK, AQ, KQ-type hands because they didn’t 3-bet preflop.
Pro tip: When you have both range and nut advantage you should employ very aggressive strategies.
Tip #5 – Usually check your whole range when out of position multiway
Multiway pots are tricky. There isn’t a consensus on how to best approach them because it wasn’t possible to study them with the help of a solver until very recently.
That being said, if we are to trust PokerSnowie, it seems like it’s best to employ an extremely defensive strategy when playing in multiway pots.
This is likely the correct way to play because when multiple players are fighting for a pot, the likelihood of one opponent holding a very strong type hand increases drastically. This means that your value range would be very snug, which in turn means the bluffing range will also be very snug.
In multiway pots on paired boards, it’s generally best to just play your whole range as a check and realize your equity this way.
Paired boards are easier to play for the player who is in position and more difficult for the player out of position. Make sure to put a lot of pressure regardless of whether you are the preflop aggressor or the preflop defender.
That’s all for this article! If you enjoyed it and learned something new about the game, or if you have any questions or feedback, please let me know in the comment section down below!
Want to study up on another type of board? Read 5 Expert Strategies for Monotone Flops.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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