How You Should Play Four Flush Boards (But Probably Don’t)

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Boards with four cards of the same suit can be confusing to play, but they don’t have to be!

This article wraps up our analysis of Daniel Negreanu’s sick multiway bluff on High Stakes Poker…

…but that’s just a jumping-off point for the main subject of this article: playing four-to-a-flush boards like a boss.

Like last time, Upswing Poker’s newest coach Uri Peleg will handle the analysis. Uri is an expert high stakes cash game player who specializes in exploitative poker strategy. That’s worked out well for him — take a look at his graph since 2020:

Uri graph 2020 onward

Uri’s results in app games with a big (1bb) ante since November 2020. Equivalent non-ante stakes would be $25/$50, and he is winning at 10bb/100 with rake back (accounting for the big ante).

The concepts discussed in this article are covered in greater detail in Uri’s upcoming Elite Cash Game Exploits course coming out on April 25th.

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Let’s talk about Daniel Negreanu’s turn and river play (and how to play four-flush boards generally), but first, I’ll recap the hand so far.

Hand Recap

Background

The location: High Stakes Poker in the Aria Casino, Las Vegas

The stakes: $200/$400 with a $400 BB ante.

Stack sizes:

  • Daniel Negreanu – $110k
  • Kim Hultman – $79k
  • Doyle Brunson – $110k

Preflop

Daniel Negreanu is in the Hijack and raises to $1,600 with 6 4. Kim Hultman is on the Button with Q♣ J♠ and calls. Doyle Brunson is in the Big Blind with 9 8♠ and also calls.

(Check out part 1 of this article series for preflop analysis.)

Flop

The pot is $6,400, and the flop comes out T♠ 9♠ 6♠.

Brunson checks and Negreanu bets $1,500. Both Hultman and Brunson call.

(Review part 2 of this series for flop analysis.)

Turn

The pot is $10,900, and the turn is the A♠

Brunson checks and Negreanu bets $5,500. Hultman calls and Brunson folds.

Turn Analysis

This is a very clever turn bluff by Daniel, but to fully understand why we will need to do a deep dive into the dynamics surrounding four-flush boards.

Turn Bluffing Strategies on Four-Flush Boards

From a technical perspective, four-flush boards are very interesting because they radically shift the relative hand strength of all players’ ranges.

Value bets on four-flush boards are pretty obvious. The strongest flushes are worth betting while middling and weaker flushes will want to slow down with a check.

The hands with which we should bluff on four-flush boards, however, are quite counterintuitive.

In most situations, it’s best to bluff with drawing hands (like straight draws or overcards). However, the problem with betting these hands types on four-flush boards is that when you get called, you will almost always drawing dead against your opponent’s range.

If you check back drawing hands, you keep your opponents’ ranges wide enough to where you can still potentially improve to the best hand on the river.

But if bluffing straight draws and overcards is a no-go, then what should you bluff with?

Interestingly, this is a unique scenario in poker in which you are better off bluffing with “air ball” combos. On the T♠ 9♠ 6♠ A♠ board, for example, bottom pairs and crappy pocket pairs like 22 are great candidates for bluffing.

These hands may have no equity to improve when called, but they do generate a lot of folds from better hands. In this case, Daniel’s hand selection here is quite good bluffing with 6 4.

Hultman happens to have a really strong flush, so he calls. Had Hultman folded, it’s still quite likely Negreanu would’ve gotten Brunson to fold his weak flush with this bluff. That shows the immense upside of bluffing with these air ball hands — you get hands with 100% equity to fold!

The Importance of Betting with Sets on Four-Flush Turns

There’s one other key element to four-flush turn strategy to cover before seeing the river card…

On four-flush boards, you should often be betting with sets and some two-pairs. This, again, may seem counterintuitive, and very few players made such a play in the past. However, betting sets in these four-flush scenarios adds a lot of expected value (EV) to your strategy.

When you bet with a set on a four-flush turn, you are both betting for value and bluffing at the same time.

You are betting for value in the sense that, in some situations, your opponents are going to call with a non-flush hand like two-pair. But sets also function as the perfect “semi-bluff” on four-flush boards because they are one of the few hands that still have a chance to outdraw a made flush.

Sets and two pairs also benefit from denying equity. After all, there are 9 possible river cards that will put a flush on the board, in which case you are at best chopping against every hand in your opponent’s range. That’s why forcing them to fold anything — even a worse hand — is a nice win for you.

Betting with non-flushes also plays a major role on rivers that pair the board (as you’re about to see).

River:

The pot is $21,900 and the river is the 6. Negreanu bets $36,000 and Hultman folds.

River Analysis

The river gives Daniel trips, but this isn’t really relevant given that Hultman’s range has been narrowed down to almost entirely flushes after the turn call.

Given this, Daniel is certainly incentivized to put in the triple-barrel bluff.

All in all, this is a great river bluff by Daniel. If you wanted to nitpick, it might be better if Daniel bet a smaller size here given that most of his value range is going to be king-high flushes.

However, the overbet is certainly fine given that, as discussed, Daniel will have some full houses in his range on this river since he would have bet on the turn with at least some sets/two-pairs.

By including sets/two-pairs in your betting range on four-flush turns, you allow yourself to credibly bluff on the river no matter what card falls.

Take Your Game to the Next Level By Learning to Exploit

This wraps up our 3 part preview on exploitative poker strategy.

Part 4 of this article series will include a sneak peek at some valuable (and entertaining) content from Uri’s course. Keep an eye out for that on April 22nd.

And remember to check out Elite Cash Game Exploits with Uri Peleg, coming April 25th. Sign up here to get reminded when the course comes out.

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