slow-play flopped flush 5-4 spades on A-J-9 all spades

What is a Flush? And How Should You Play Flushes?

Making a flush can often result in winning the pot in a game of poker. One of the stronger hands you can make, the flush ranks fifth in the poker hand rankings, behind the royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, and full house.

A flush consists of any five cards that are all the same suit. Here’s an example of what a flush looks like:

Poker Hand Rankings: Flush

Other examples of flushes could be hands like A♠ T♠ 7♠ 6♠ 2♠ or J8543. Note that the standard flush refers to five cards of the same suit but not in sequential order. Sequential flushes fall into the straight flush or royal flush category, and both of those hands outrank the standard flush.

When two or more players get to showdown with a flush, the flush with the stronger high-card rankings wins. For example, a queen-high flush always beats a ten-high flush. If multiple players have flushes with the same high card, the next highest card in the hand determines the winner.

How Does a Flush Rank?

It’s important to remember that a flush beats a straight, as well as all other hands below it in the standard poker hand rankings.

From a 52-card deck, you have 1,277 ways to draw a distinct flush (excluding royal flushes and straight flushes). Multiplied by the four suits, there are 5,108 total ways to make a flush if you randomly draw five cards from the deck. The probability of making a flush in this fashion is 0.1965% or 508.8-to-1 odds against.

Texas Hold’em requires players to make the best five-card hand out of seven total cards. You have a 3.03% chance of making a flush in Texas Hold’em (32.1-to-1 odds against).

How to Play Like a Pro When You Flop a Flush

Up there with flopping a set, there aren’t many feelings more thrilling in poker than flopping a flush.

Just imagine it for a moment. You raise with a hand like A 5 and the flop comes…

Doesn’t that feel good?

But monotone flops like this present an interesting challenge…

If you always bet, raise, and re-raise with your flopped flushes, your range will be too weak and unprotected when you check. For this reason, it is important to sometimes slow-play when you flop a flush.

In this article, you will find 4 tips for different situations that will help you understand when to slow-play with a flush on the flop.

Let’s start with the most obvious situation.

1. Always check as the preflop caller when you’re out of position.

When flopping the flush as the preflop caller out of position, you should always check to the preflop raiser. This situation happens most frequently when you call in the big blind with a suited hand or when you call a 3-bet versus a player in late position.

Even when you flop a vulnerable flush with a hand like 5 6on J 7 2, checking is still almost always better than leading out. If you lead (aka donk-bet) with some or all of your flushes, you severely weaken your checking range, opening yourself up to exploitation by savvy opponents.

If you show down a flush after leading, a savvy opponent may conclude that you frequently lead out with flopped flushes. Armed with that information, the savvy opponent can exploit you with an aggressive betting strategy when you do check. You might even be “accidentally” exploited if your opponent bets aggressively when checked to by default.

It’s best to keep your whole range as a check on the flop and proceed from there.

Checking to the preflop raiser is practically a procedural move in poker these days, so this first situation was likely review for most readers. However, the theme of protecting your range is important to understand for the remaining three situations.

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2. Check-call sometimes versus c-bets when you’re out of position.

Suppose you call a raise preflop out of the big blind with a suited spade hand and the flop comes all spades. You check to the preflop raiser and he c-bets.

You should oftentimes check-raise for value in this situation, but not always!

If you check-raise too often with your flushes, your opponent can exploit you by c-betting much more frequently. Consider how your opponent could easily exploit you, regardless of whether you raise or call, if you were to always check-raise with flopped flushes:

  • If you raise, your opponent can assume you often have a flush and fold with everything but his strongest hands.
  • If you call, your opponent can exploit your weakened, flush-deficient range by frequently betting huge on the turn and river (with both thin value bets and bluffs).

What types of flushes should you look to check-call with? If we look at simulations from PioSolver, the frequencies are very mixed, with almost every type of flush being slow-played at some frequency.

It’s tough to spot trends when looking at very mixed ranges, but I think you will generally want to check-call with the smaller flushes because they unblock the most obvious bluffing hands with which the opponent will bet on the turn.

For example, If you have a low flush on J♠ 8♠ 5♠, you don’t block the A♠X/K♠X/Q♠X hands from your opponent’s range. It is with those hands that he is most likely to bluff aggressively on the turn and river, and you’ll be waiting to snap him off with your flush.

3. Check back sometimes as the preflop raiser when you’re in position.

Generally speaking, you should forego a c-bet with some of your flopped flushes when in position in order to protect your checking range.

If you fail to check back with some of your flopped flushes and you are playing regularly against good players, you again open yourself up to exploitation. When you do check, your opponents can profitably leverage their entire stack by the river with more marginal value hands and also with more bluffs. This lowers your strategy’s expected value.

So, which flushes should you check back in this situation?

I think checking back with the lower ones is a good place to start for the same reason situation #2: low flushes don’t block the opponent’s probing range.

For example, when you hold J♠ 6♠ on T♠ 9♠ 5♠ and you check back, your opponent will start bluffing on the turn with his A♠X, K♠X, and similar hands. He will also continue betting on the river very often. When you hold a high flush, like A♠ K♠, you prevent your opponent from having those prime bluffing hands.

Note: If your opponent is a passive calling station, you’ll likely make more money by simply betting with all of your flushes on the flop. That will allow you to extract more value, and you don’t have to worry about being exploited by these types of opponents.

4. Check-call sometimes as the preflop raiser when you’re out of position

You are probably starting to see the pattern here…

You should sometimes play passively when you flop a flush, and that is true when you are out of position as the preflop raiser as well.

Supposed you raise from early position, the player on the button calls, and you flop a flush. If you always bet in situations like this, your checking range would be pretty unprotected.

A strong, observant opponent can capitalize on your weak range by increasing the frequency at which she stabs at the pot when checked to. She can also frequently use big bets on the turn and river to put your weak range in a tough spot. This, once again, lowers your strategy’s expected value.

So, what types of flushes will you want to check-call in this situation?

I think you might have gotten the idea if you’ve paid enough attention so far: the smaller flushes! The reason is the same as before, you want to let your opponent start bluffing with the high flush draws in his range.

Easy to remember, right?

Final Thoughts

Although I’ve harped on checking a lot, make no mistake: you should usually lean towards fast-playing with your flopped flushes. But slow-playing sometimes will go a long way and make you a lot tougher to play against.

Slow-playing a handful of flushes will add a new layer of complexity to your game. When you face exploitative players who might assume you fast-play all flushes on monotone flops, they will be in for a rude awakening. If they try to capitalize on perceived weaknesses with aggressive bets, they will end up exploiting themselves and losing more against you.

That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below!

Want to improve your strategy with the best hand in the game? Read 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Pocket Aces.

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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