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6 Tips for When The Flush Gets There (And You Don’t Have It)

It’s happened to us all…and it sucks.

You flop a solid hand like top pair or a straight draw — let’s say on a J 8♣ 4 flop — but then the turn is a pesky third flush card (like the 5).

Navigating these situations can be tricky, but this article will make them a bit easier for you.

I’ll start by sharing 3 tips for playing flush-completing turns as the preflop caller. Then, I’ll wrap up the article with 3 tips for playing these turn spots as the preflop raiser.

The focus will be on single-raised pots, since these are by far the most frequent.

Let’s begin!

Playing Flush-Completing Turns as the Preflop Caller

Tip #1: When you’re out of position, middle pairs without additional outs are too weak to call against a second bet

Example: You’re in the Big Blind and defend with J♠ T♣. You check-call on a Q♣ T 3 flop and the turn is the 4. You check and face another bet.

If your opponent uses anything but a tiny bet size in this spot, you should get out of the way. Your hand might beat bluffs like A K♠, but even those hands have great equity against you. Plus, even if they miss, they still might blow you off your hand on the river.

Tip #2: You should always fold naked open-enders against a second bet

Example: You’re in the Big Blind and defend with Q♣ J♣. You check-call on a K T♠ 4 flop and face another bet on the 7 turn.

Open-ended straight draws are great on the flop. They have a very good chance to become a strong-yet-disguised hand by the river. But they go way down in value when a third flush card falls.

If you call a second barrel with Q♣ J♣ in the example just above, you’re basically hoping for one of the non-heart Aces or Nines to come on the river. But even if that best case scenario happens, your hand still won’t be strong enough to check-raise for value.

This means that, unless you’re facing a tiny bet, you won’t have the implied odds needed for the turn call to be profitable. So, just get out of the way.

Tip #3: If you have a pocket pair above the second card, you should fold unless you have a flush or straight draw to go with it

Example: You’re on the Big Blind and defend with 8♠ 8 versus a Small Blind raise. You call a bet on an A 7♣ 6♣ flop, then face another bet on the 2♣ turn.

These hands simply aren’t strong enough to continue, especially considering they only have 1 decent out to improve. In the example above, the 8♣ will put four cards to a flush, so the only good river card would be the 8 — and that might not even be good!

Here’s an interesting side note: K 7 and Q 7 are actually better calling hands than 8♠ 8 in the example above, even though the latter is a stronger hand in an absolute sense. This is for a few reasons:

  1. The K7/Q7 have more outs to improve.
  2. The player who is betting likely has a polarized range consisting strong top pairs (AK/AQ) and better, and K7/Q7 block those top pairs.
  3. The bluffs in the player’s range are unlikely to contain a King or a Queen (i.e. K7/Q7 unblock the bluffs).

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Playing Flush-Completing Turns as the Preflop Raiser

Tip #1: Always check with second pair

Example: You raise preflop with Q♣ T♣ and get called by one player. The board runs out J♠ T♠ 6 5♠.

It doesn’t matter if you are playing in position or out of position, second pairs are too weak to bet for value and too strong to bet as a bluff. The best way to play these hands, most of the time, is to be passive and try to get to showdown.

If the board runs out safe, then you can consider going for a value bet on the river. Just be sure to think through your opponent’s range first and only bet if you think they can feasibly call with a worse hand more than 50% of the time.

Tip #2: If you have top pair in position, you should check back unless you have an extra draw to go with it

Example: You raise preflop with K J♠ and the Big Blind calls. You c-bet when checked to on J T♠ 7 and the turn is the 5.

The strength of a top pair hand fades significantly when a flush completes.. You need to slam on the breaks when this happens because there’s now a new, stronger class of hands that represent a decent part of your opponent’s range.

Your opponent won’t feel as obligated to call with his second pairs anymore, or at least not as much as he would on a brick turn card. So, in that way, your top pair is more like a second pair when the flush hits, and you know from the previous tip what to do with second pairs.

Tip #3: Semi-bluff with open-enders when out of position

Example: You raise preflop with T♠ 9♠ and the Button calls. You c-bet on J♠ 8 4, get called, and the turn is the K.

When you are playing out of position, it’s tougher to see all 5 board cards (and reach showdown) since you don’t have the option to check back for free. For this reason, when the flush hits, your open-ender still has a bunch of equity that you’d hate to just check-fold away.

You can’t really check-raise, either, since you don’t have enough equity to do so profitably. The only remaining option is to bet. There are 3 possible scenarios when you do so:

  • You’ll force a fold and win the pot outright (best case scenario)
  • Your opponent calls, in which case you still have 6 good outs to make a straight (decent scenario)
  • You get raised and are forced to fold your draw (worst case scenario)

Only 1 of those possibilities is truly bad, and it’s the least likely one to happen. If you check, on the other hand, you’re basically praying your opponent checks back and you’re somehow able to win the pot on the river.

Betting is simply superior, and including bluffs like this helps balance your range of value hands (which includes two pairs, sets, and flushes).

Final Thoughts

You are now armed with 6 tips that will help you play better whenever the flush completes on the turn. In general, these tips are more about losing less than winning more. But as the saying goes: a chip saved is a chip earned!

That’s all for this article. I hope you learned something new and that you enjoyed it! As usual, if you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below.

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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