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Drawing Hands

Drawing Hands in Poker - Straight DrawYou have a 'drawing hand' when you are one or more cards away from a strong made hand.  Common drawing situations are straight draws and flush draws.  

Playing a draw in poker can be tricky. You have some equity in the pot - sometimes are a favorite to win - but miss or 'brick' if the right card ('out') doesn't come on the turn or river.

You could either passively check/call and just see if you hit, or play aggressively to make use of fold equity.

Drawing Hands Explained

Playing drawing hands profitably requires taking several factors into consideration, such as your equity, opponent temperament, stack sizes, and more.

Bluffing and implied odds aside, the following general rule apples: fold if you are not getting the right pot odds, and call/raise if you are.

Drawing pays at Yachting Poker thanks to their easily hit 'High Hand Jackpots'.

Example 1: Calling with a Draw

Let’s imagine you’re playing a $1/$2 No-Limit holdem game on Yachting Poker.  Four players have limped in behind you and you’re on the button with J♥ Q♠ and decide to call $2. The blinds call as well making the pot $14.

The flop comes 9♦ T♣ A♠.

This is one of the best flops you could catch.  Any 8 or King would give you the nuts (the best possible hand given the board).  

The Big Blind bets $7 and four players call making the pot $49. You are currently getting 7-1 pot odds on your draw. You will make your straight about 1 in 3 times by the river, and 1 in 5 times by the turn. 

Calling is a profitable play in this situation over the long run regardless of what comes on the next card.

Note that raising with this draw is also acceptable, but a full discussion of poker strategy is the beyond the scope of this article. 

Example 2: Folding a Draw

This time you’re playing a $1/$2 No-Limit Holdem game on BetSafe. Everyone folds to the Small Blind and you check your option with J♥ Q♠. The pot currently has $4.

The flop comes 9♦ T♣ A♠.

The Small Blind bets all-in for $16 into a $4 pot.  In this situation you have to call $16 to win $20 getting odds of 1.25-1.  Your draw will only come in about 1 in 3 times, the correct play is to fold and wait for a better spot. 

Option 1 – Fold.  Result:  Lose $2 100% of the time.  

Overall Expected Value -$2.  

Option 2 - Call.  Result:  Win $18  33% of the time and Lose $18  67% of the time.  

(+18 * .33) + (-18 * .67) = Overall Expected value = $6 - $12 = -$6.  

By calling, you lose $4 more in the long run.  

Playing Against a Draw

If you can put your opponent on a draw, giving him a bad price to chase isn't a tough thing to do.  

The most common draws are straight draws and flush draws with 8 or 9 outs respectively.

If your opponent is on a flush draw with e.g. 8♠ 9♠ on a flop of A♠ J♠ 6♦ he has 9 outs to make a flush and would need better than 2:1 pot odds on the flop to see both cards. His backdoor straight possibilities are worth around 1 additional out, coming in approximately 2% of the time.

Flush Draw

If the pot is $10 and you bet out $7, your opponent is getting 2.4:1 pot odds, but just to see one card which will help him only 1 in 5 times.

If the turn misses you can bet again and charge him another incorrect price to chase his draw.  

However, you must be disciplined enough to fold when you feel your opponent has hit, or his implied odds may still be high enough to justify calling you on each street.

Playing a Big Draw with Positive Equity

In some cases a draw is so powerful you can play it as aggressively as if you had already made your hand. These are often known as combo draws

For example, you hold K♠ Q♠ and the flop comes J♠ T♠ 2♥. Here your open-ended straight flush draw is a favorite or flipping against several hands:

  • Against 9♦ 8♦ you are a 78% favorite
  • Against A♣ J♣ you are a 66% favorite
  • Against J♦ T♦ you are a 53% favorite
  • Against 2♠ 2♦ you are a 42% underdog

Big draws like these can be played almost as if you hit your hand on the flop. 

Knowing your odds is especially important without player reads at Bovada's anonymous tables.