When you flop top pair with a good kicker

This is generally a very good flop for you. Suppose you have raised with

in late position, four other players have called, and there has been no other raise. The flop comes

You probably have the best hand right now. However, there are a lot of things than can go wrong. If the turn card is you will have to fold if there's any substantial action. Therefore, you want to raise immediately on thfe flop, and make it expensive for flush draws and overcards to stick around. Even if the board is less threatening (for instance, J4-6V-3*), you still want to raise on the flop. This may get out hands like KQ, which you would like to do. If it's checked to you, bet.

If you're in early position and you get the first flop, you have a problem. You would like to check-raise, but you must be very sure that somebody will bet. You definitely don't want to give a free card to somebody with KQ or two hearts. If somebody in late position raised before the flop, he may well bet on the flop, giving you the opportunity to check-raise. If you are the first person to act after the raiser, this would be a perfect time to check-raise, as you have a good chance of making it a heads-up contest.

If you were the preflop raiser, be more inclined to bet (rather than check-raise) on the flop if the flop hits you. Being the preflop raiser, you're almost expected to bet, and this gives you the chance to re-raise if somebody raises behind you.

Note that if you have and the flop comes K>-8v-3*, the check-raise is an excellent play because you aren't afraid of an overcard (except an ace) on the turn. If it's checked around, that's unfortunate, but not likely to be catastrophic. It may also confuse your opponents when you bet on the turn. For instance, if the turn is the T ♦, somebody with a ten may call you both on the turn and the river, not believing you have the king.

Let's return to the situation where you have A*-J* and the flop is J4-9V-2V. If you raise and are re-raised (or bet and are raised), you must decide how to continue. If you think that raising again will limit the pot to you and the raiser, it may be worth re-raising, even if you suspect he has you beaten right now. By eliminating the other players, you are giving yourself a better shot to win the pot (even though it will cost you an extra bet here). For instance, many players would stay in here with a hand like Qv-9*. For one bet, that would not be a terrible play. However, if you re-raise and force that person to call two bets cold, he will probably fold. By knocking him out, you save the pot for yourself if a queen, nine, or two more hearts fall.

If you don't think you can eliminate other players or you are sure that the raiser has a strong hand, you can back off — call the raise and then check and call to the river. It will be difficult to fold in this situation unless the third flush card hits or a king or queen hits. If your opponent continues to bet into you then, you might think about dropping. However, if you call a bet on the turn', you must be absolutely sure of your opponent if you decide to fold on the river. By that time, the pot will be quite large, and you will be making a catastrophic mistake if you fold incorrectly. We are not urging you to call every bet on the river. Nevertheless, an incorrect fold in this situation can be very expensive, depending on how badly you mis-estimate the odds that you are beaten versus the pot odds.

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