BB Check-Lead Flop Range

Imagine the following situation, which I find occurs fairly often at low-to-mid stakes games (ring up to 2K/4K and possibly higher, and tourneys with buy-ins 250K and below) on this site:

We’re 6- to 9-handed preflop. Three players limp, and the small blind completes. I’m sitting in the big blind and check my option. The flop comes and SB checks to me.

On what types of boards should I have a lead range? Considering there are four other players in the hand, should I bet fairly large, and limit my drawing/bluffing? Are there any boards where I should be betting 100% of the time (772 rainbow comes to mind), or should I always be more selective about which hands to lead out in this spot? Does effective stack depth play a role in these decisions? What about ICM for tournaments near the bubble or pay jumps?

I would suggest never leading a 772 rainbow flop if I’m in the hand.

Just sayin’.

1 Like

Leading from early position is tricky. If you have a good hand, you bet, the table folds, you get no more value out of the hand than was there preflop. Maybe you could have just bought the pot pre.

You can check-raise, if you think that someone is likely to open after you. This is risky, if no one does, and you let the table see a free Turn.

What type of board should you have a lead range? I’m not sure I understand the question; you should bet if you hit, right? And maybe if you didn’t hit, for a bluff. But bluffing out of position into a 4-handed flop seems like a bad idea.

I don’t know if this is the right answer or not, but here’s some thoughts:

You hit top pair, with a good kicker.

Bet, and hope the hand closes. But why didn’t you raise preflop? There could be a lot of good reasons not to, but consider it for next time.

Alternately, check-raise. This is especially good if the last player to act often makes an obligatory bet when no one else bets.

You hit two pair

There’s two types of two pair hands: pairing each of your hole cards to the flop is better; the strength of your hand is hidden, and no one else has a board pair that can give someone trips or a full house.

If you hit a pair with one of your hole cards, and it is complimented by a board pair on the flop, be cautious. If the board pair is in someone’s range, you could be behind. Many players will limp Any Ace Suited, which means that the board pair could potentially be in anyone’s range.

Paired flops are scary to anyone who missed the flop, which can make them decent flops to bluff. But this is maybe better to do with fewer players still in the hand, and from later position. It’s easier to bluff from a big stack, but if you have the big stack, do you really need to bluff here?

You hit trips

If the board pairs, giving you trips, you have a strong hand, but the flop is a bit scary to anyone else who doesn’t have it. It’s likely no one will bet this flop who doesn’t have trips, so if you bet it, you’re repping trips.

You hit a set

Alright, you didn’t raise your pocker pair before the flop, you must have had some reason for that, right? Limping smaller pairs is the right thing to do in a lot of situations, since it’s so easy for someone else to make a bigger pair. But now that you’ve hit a set, now what?

Your limp didn’t betray your hand’s strength, and now your hand is much stronger, you’re almost certainly a head of most other hands. In early position, check-call or check-raise is a good strategy for low sets. For higher sets, you probably should have raised preflop, but if you didn’t, you might as well continue to conceal the strength of your hand, and let your opponents bet into you, and just flat them, and let them think that you might fold to their next bet, to encourage them to bet again.

That said, watch the board complexion. If the board favors a flush or straight draw, you will not want to slow-play the hand, and should instead bet aggressively to close the hand. Lead, or check-raise, but make that check-raise hard to call. Definitely raise small bets, as those are probably coming from someone on a draw trying to keep the betting low.

You hit a straight (or better) on the flop

Usually it’s best to check here and let others build the pot for better value, here, calling anything. Full houses or better, you should obviously do this. No need to lead here, it’s only likely to kill the action. Let them come to you.

With a flush, assess how close you are to having the nut flush. How many unseen cards in the flush suit are over you? If you have low or middle suited connectors and flopped a flush with it, it’s different than if you flopped a nut flush. A nut flush you can usually slow play, and be careful only if the board pairs. Less than a nut flush, you may want to close the hand, hoping that unsuited high cards in your suit will fold before they can fill.

With a straight, it’s tempting to slow play, but you will need to be more aware of the board texture. Suited boards and paired boards can be bad news, and especially if there’s two pair on the board. You also want to be aware of how you’re hand is making the straight. If you’re on the bottom end, there’s risk you could have someone beat you on the top end of the straight. If you have gappers in the middle of the straight, it’s less likely that anyone else has hit it. If you’re holding the top end of the straight, that’s the best, maybe someone else will have the bottom end and you’ll take them for a huge pot. You might want to open if the board is two-suited on the flop, to fold possible flush draws. Alternately, you can check-raise here.

You flop a draw

I’m talking a real draw, an OESD or four to a high flush, not an inside draw or backdoor draws or low flushes. I’m also not talking about two pairs or trips that are drawing to a full house, as those hands are already made and have strength. But Pair + a Draw is included here, if it’s not Top Pair.

In early position, you probably don’t want to bet draws. Sometimes players will small bet their draws, thinking that if they get a few to fold, and maybe someone else calls, it will keep the pot odds reasonable for them to see if they can fill the draw. I don’t think I’ve seen this work as well at higher stakes. Someone else is bound to bet for you, and if enough call, you can still get OK pot odds to just call. If you bet, you want to bet smaller, which is likely to invite a raise from late position. You may get the rest of the table to just call you, but if you do get raised you’ll probably have to dump the hand.

Of course you don’t want to invest a lot of chips drawing to something that won’t win, so don’t stay in for a draw to a straight when there’s an implied flush, etc.

So I guess in summary, it seems like leading from early position is good if you have a hand like Top Pair, good kicker, or two pair, and stronger hands may be better off check-raising.

Stack sizes do play a part in this of course, and you should play accordingly.

Multiway pots are death, as you know. TP hands with this many in the pot are checks and rarely good by the river. The more players in the hand, the stronger your ranges have to get. In terms of leading out, go with your strongest hands/draws only. A good coach suggested leading with the hands you would normally be check/raising with HU.

Sizing? Well that’s an issue isn’t it? The pots get so bloated so quickly that you are looking at risking your entire stack if you get involved. 2-pair or a set on a dry board you can bet small. Your best combo draws on wet boards you can bet large and try to get HU then shove most turns. Your medium strength hands are check/folds to action. Your medium strength draws should be played more passively and folded if the board presents better draws and there’s significant action.

This does come up a lot and I see many players get killed because they are involved in big pots with hands they would have folded to any raise. In general, do not get overly involved in big pots OOP with less than monster hands/draws.


The vast majority of my preflop range - probably about 90% - is going to be a check. I’ll be out of position against most of my opponents who have shown interest in the pot, and I don’t particularly want to commit a lot of chips on Q3s, or 74o, and end up postflop with a massively bloated pot and still a bunch of people in the hand. I’m going to even put many of my lower pocket pairs in my preflop check range, hoping to set-mine considering how poorly these hands play postflop.

The question is what types of flops “hit my range” more than my opponents. Boards with low paired cards might good because I should have more random low garbage than my competitors. Low-to-mid “straightening” boards like 3d5s6h work for the same reason. Now, the question will become should I only lead out with my made hands, or can/should I build some bluffs in as well in order to get calls when I do hit something really nice and want to get value from overpairs that inexplicably decided to limp. But the size of my bluff range is going to be extremely board-dependent.

Yup. Yet another reason to check most of my range when multiple players limp to me in the big blind.

Great advice!

1 Like

Gotta give some credits to @dayman with his JTs though.
Aside from all the jokes, my main tip is don’t get to thirsty on flops you hit (hard) OOP. It’s better to lose some potential value than getting 10x too aggressive and get stacked by some other limper…

1 Like

In tournaments you should shove preflop and make them all fold, especially if you have nothing. and then show your cards. Next time you shove from BB with a monster, they will not be fooled and will call.

If you check and see the flop, check/fold unless you have a monster. If you have AA or KK you can check the flop, and your opponents will possibly not be expecting you to have what you have, then if you hit trips on the flop and check the flop, most likely late position or any player with A or K will try to take down the pot with a value or continuation bet, which you can call and try to rep some kind of draw. If there is a repeat on the turn, and then opponent checks to you on the river, he has probably given up or hopes that he is ahead with his top pair, pocket pair or second pair, so now you can shove and make it look like a desperate bluff on a missed draw, and perhaps he will call and you will stack him. Other opponents will see your bullets and marvel greatly at your insane play and resolve never to shove against you or call your shoves unless they have the nuts. From now on you will know when they have the nuts and can take evasive action. If he folds to your shove, do not show your cards. Always try to give the table the impression that you are bluffing when you have a good hand so that when you have a good hand, opponents will take you for a bluffer.

However, in tournaments, EVERYTHING depends on the size of the stacks, the size of the blinds, the stage of the tournament, and the prior playing style of opponents, if you have any read on them. In the early stages of tournaments, you definitely want to let this hand go unless you flop two pairs or better, or possibly a nut flush draw or the top end of an open ended straight draw.

1 Like

An analysis of Pluribus’s flop donking strategies was just posted here. Very timely for this thread.

I’m a bit disappointed with many of the comments on the thread so far. If I only lead out with strong made hands, then I’ll be unbalanced and opponents can over-fold. Deciding to jam every time it limps to me in the big blind in order to prevent me from even getting to this type of spot (seriously, @MekonKing???) seems like a disaster as well.

Based on the Pluribus hands, low and connected/paired/monotone boards seem to be ideal, with lead ranges that have inside straight or weak flush draws balancing two-pair/set value hands. However, such moves need to be made with very low frequency.

The Pluribus link you shared was interesting - thanks! It’s notable that Pluribus is only leading 1.9% of the time here. I think we can feasibly just check 100% of our range vs strong players. I can’t believe that we’d be giving up much value and it’s simpler than trying to split our range.

True, but we have to decide whether being balanced is necessary in this situation. If four or five players limped in, you’re not exactly facing a table full of Pluribus clones. Are all of these players really going to figure out that you’re underbluffing when you lead in this situation? On the other hand, can we get more value by simply betting out?


LOL, low blow man, low blow… I’ll get you for this you know!

Where do you think you’re playing and who do you think you are playing against? This is the very bottom-end of low stakes poker. “Balancing” in multiway pots at low stakes is about as productive as playing Beethoven to cows. It might make you feel smart but the cows have no idea what the heck you’re up to.

I think a lot of people need to ask themselves if they want to sound smart or be as profitable as possible. For play-chips, its kind of a “who-cares?” thing. If you ever play for money, it would be a good idea to play vs the actual players you are facing and not against a textbook. Theory is great but most of what I read here is for play against people most of us will never meet. This is trench warfare man. Bring the right weapons with you.