Most no-limit hold’em players who aren’t completely terrible are familiar with the idea of continuation betting on the flop. In case you aren’t aware, continuation betting the flop happens when you were the pre-flop aggressor (put in the last raise before the flop) and also were the first person to bet on the flop. In many cases, this bet can take down a small to medium-sized pot whether you hit a hand on the flop or not. Because it’s a fairly easy idea to understand, most players know the basics of this play. One way to counter people who continuation bet a lot of the time is to raise the flop as a bluff. Since they won’t often have a good hand, they’ll have to fold a high percentage of the time, and this leads to a profit.
However, unless your opponent is continuation betting more than 75% of flops or so, it’s going to be difficult to bluff-raise them over and over because they’ll pick up on what you’re doing and stop bluffing the flop as often. You won’t know when they adjust, so there will be some time between when they adjust and when you realize all of you flop bluff raises are getting picked off. Instead of just indiscriminately raising flop continuation bets, you can avoid having your opponents adjust quickly by picking and choosing the correct flops to execute this play on.
So what are bad types of flops? In general, the cards on the flop create two conditions that affect whether a bluff raise is going to be profitable or not. The first condition is how often our opponent’s continuation bet is going to be representing a strong range. The second condition is how often we would be raising the flop c-bet for value. For example, if a tight player in early position raises pre-flop and we call in late position, flops like Ace King Four and King Jack Ten are going to really favor our opponent because there are so many strong hands in his range. On the other hand, flops like Ten Nine Seven or Jack Six Five aren’t going to create so many strong hands for our opponent, but make plenty of sets, two pairs, and strong draws for our calling range since we have a lot of suited connectors and small-medium pocket pairs.
If we can often raise some flop in some situation for value, then theoretically that means we should be bluff raising that same flop more often as well. Similarly, if we can’t be raising a flop for value very often, then we have to limit the frequency we bluff. When we avoid these bad situations, we keep our total raise frequency a bit lower on the flop overall, which means that our opponents will be more likely to make the mistake of not adjusting to our flop raises, which means we’re basically printing money against them every time they continuation bet a flop and we’re still in the hand.