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After you were the preflop aggressor

Having the initiative pre flop is a fundamental poker concept, which dictates how you will be able to play the hand post flop if you get called. Besides starting hand selection and position in Texas Holdem, being the aggressor pre-flop would have to be one of the most important strategies to apply in your poker game in order to beat the current games you’re playing.

There are many advantages that come with being the aggressor before the flop. First and foremost, by upping the aggression pre flop, it will allow you to have control of the hand when it comes to playing on the flop, turn, and river. Having raised pre-flop the other players at the table are more likely to give you credit for a strong hand on the flop, since you are telling a believable story. When you come in with a raise pre flop, you more then likely have a very good hand. When you continue the aggression on the flop, it continues to show strength in that you still like your hand.

A continuation bet on the flop takes advantage of the initiative you gain from being the pre-flop aggressor, and in overall softer games with weaker players; most people are generally playing their hands in a straightforward manner. This presents itself with an extremely profitable opportunity because most of the time players are going to miss the flop and it will be up for grabs for whoever wants it. As the pre flop aggressor, you have the first opportunity to grab it, even when you are not first to act on the flop, because the majority of poker players will check to the raiser to see what they do.

Although continuation betting is an effective play to have in your poker arsenal, you want to make sure you are being aggressive in the right spots to increase your chances of taking down the flop when you have nothing yourself. For example, there will be many situations where you will have come in with a raise with a hand like AK/AQ but completely whiff the flop when it comes all low cards. In situations where you miss the flop, you want to consider the number of players in the pot, and your opponent’s hand ranges, and likelihood they would have also missed the flop themselves.

The fewer players involved in the hand, the better probability your cbet bluffs will work when playing against players who will fold when they have nothing. The ideal situation is to be playing heads up, which is always the plan when you try and isolate players when you are the aggressor pre flop. Against only one opponent, it’s going to be incredibly easy to get a fold on most flop board textures, since in all likelihood the flop will have also missed your opponent.

When there are two callers who are seeing the flop, whether or not you should try and steal the pot when you miss the flop is a closer decision, and likely a break even play on many boards, since fairly often at least one of the players will have a pair that they won’t fold. Of course, when you have a hand like AQ on a low card flop like 2-3-5 you don’t really mind getting called, since with your 2 over cards and a gutshot, you likely have 10 outs to improve to the best hand, which is better odds then a flush draw.

But on flops where you have fewer outs to make the best hand, you want to be more strategic about when you want to c-bet. Generally though, your opponents will be folding pretty much every time he or she doesn't catch a piece of the board.

Betting the flop when you completely whiff starts to become spewy when there were many callers and it becomes a family pot. For example, if you open raise in MP with KQ and there are 3 callers and the flop comes down T-8-3 rainbow. All you have is two over cards and this flop likely hit one of your opponents. As much as it seems weak/tight to raise pre flop and just fold the flop, it’s the optimal play.