Play After The Flop

Our ‘calendar’ system helps make it easy to remember when to bet, raise, call or fold pre-flop.

Texas Hold’Em poker is one of the most cunningly devised games yet invented by man, allowing casual players to win just often enough to keep them interested while also allowing more skilful players to win often enough to keep them playing this particular form of poker. In other words, it combines the fun of the roulette table with the hard strategy of the chess board, allowing every type of player to participate and enjoy at their own level along the way.

Whatever your attitude to the game, though, winning at poker is likely to be a little bit more fun than losing at poker – at least it is for all those of a normal human disposition and outlook on life. For that reason, everyone can gain from some study, however basic, of poker strategy.

Back in IE17, I introduced my new ‘calendar’ hand-grouping strategy to help players decide what to do when they have only their ‘hole’ cards (that is, the first two cards in their hand) – whether to fold without playing, whether to call someone’s bet, or whether to raise the bet.

The basis of the strategy is to divide these pre-flop hands into so-called ‘Spring’, ‘Summer’ and ‘Autumn’ hands, depending on their relative strength, and using these seasons, as well as the month of the season and position at the table, as an accessible and statistically-tested guide to playing the first couple of cards.

Mnemonics for poker

For this month’s article, I’ve extended my ‘calendar’ system to make it easier to recall how you should play in those hands where you have decided to continue with the action, ie post-flop play. To do this I will use the same seasonal division as earlier, ie cards after the flop fall into ‘Spring’, ‘Summer’ and ‘Autumn’ hands. As before, Spring hands are the best, playable in most circumstances, Summer are playable in some circumstances and Autumn playable in the most defined circumstances. Note that there are no ‘Winter’ hands – it is, of course, never Winter in the wonderful world of poker.

The earlier in the season your hand falls, the more aggressively in general you should play. There are occasions when you might wish to play other hands (I have termed these ‘off-calendar’ hands), but as with pre-flop calendar strategy this is the poker equivalent of skiing off-piste – only for the bold, ultra confident and those who really know what they’re doing (and, of course, the plain daft!). If you don’t have any of the calendar hands, or else it is obvious you are down after the flop and don’t have a big draw for a straight or a flush, consider folding very seriously indeed.

Exceptions to the rule

Be warned, though – these are guidelines only. In combination with the calendar system strategy for playing poker before the flop, they are designed to offer you that vital – easy-to-remember – edge which divides winners from losers. Ultimately, though, as I explained in my pre-flop strategy lesson, there really is no definitive system which applies in each and every circumstance. That would make life just a little too easy – and those who invented the game were just a little too clever to allow that to happen.

I do hope, though, that you find it a useful complement to my previous pre-flop calendar poker strategy. And I hope I may conclude with the same sentiment as I did once before, which is this: if the calendar system adds to your fun, I’ll be pleased. If it helps you win – and it’s not at my expense – then I’ll be absolutely delighted!

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