In limit hold'em, it would be rare to get inadequate odds to draw to a straight or flush. Even if the pot odds
are insufficient, the implied odds will normally make it correct to stay in the potBob Ciaffone is one of America’s best-known poker players, writers, and teachers. He has numerous poker tournament wins and placings, the most prominent being third place in the 1987 World Championship. He has been a poker teacher since 1995, with his students having earned well over a million dollars in tournament play. Bob's website is www.pokercoach.us
if facing only a single bet. But no-limit is a different game that has its own strategy. Here are some tips for handling a draw in no-limit hold'em. In this column, I will discuss just the typical draw: eight outs for a straight and nine outs for a flush. (Big draws such as a straight and flush draw or a flush draw with two overcards have their own rules of engagement.)1. You do not have to call a bet when having a straight draw or flush draw.
When heads up, if your opponent bets the size of the pot, you are not getting the right price to call. A pot-size bet means you are getting 2-to-1 odds on your money. A straight draw has eight outs and a flush draw has nine outs, which is a shade over 4-to-1. Even given the implied odds for the money you might make after hitting, a call looks shaky. Flushes are a red flag when they hit, and not such an easy hand with which to make money. If your draw is not to the nuts, you must consider the old admonition of danger in fulfilling your wishes. Keep in mind that even with the nut-flush draw, you won't always make the nuts. One of your flush cards also pairs the board on the turn, and two of them also pair the board on the river.2. A draw often needs to be played with aggression to be profitable.
You can see that calling with a typical draw can easily be taking a negative position. Betting is a different matter. A good bit of the time, you win without a fight. If your opponent calls, you can still win the pot by making your hand. It is also easier to get a draw paid off if you are betting, because your opponent does not know if you are still charging forward with the same hand, have just hit your hand, or have picked up a draw with the new boardcard. Looking at the math, it is easy to understand why the better players are often playing their drawing hands aggressively.3. Bet a pot to win it, not to sweeten it.
I do not like to bet a draw when I have little hope of winning the pot. This means that I seldom lead out into a large field when holding a draw. True, a large field gives you the hope of good pot odds, but it also means that you are likely going to get called. Frankly, I would much prefer to bet a draw against a single opponent who has not shown strength preflop. Such a bet is often mathematically correct even when you have nothing. If I bet the size of the pot and win immediately more than half the time, it is clear that my bluff is a sound wager. If the portion of the time I get called I can still win anyway, that is sweet frosting on a cake that already tastes good.4. Unless you are fairly sure that your opponent will bet, go ahead and bet yourself.
I once saw the advice in a poker forum that if you have to act first, you should go for a check-raise. The idea was that you could get all in without overbetting the pot size by a lot, as is the case if you just move all in. Getting all in with a draw is usually better than getting part of your money in and having your opponent with position using it to muck his hand if you hit and move you in if you miss. That reasoning may be OK as far as it goes, but it's not the way I view things. Lots of times, opponents just check along after you. Instead of being happy with a free card, you should be sad that you did not bet and take it down. If an opponent does bet, he may well be able to call your all-in raise, meaning that you will be a 2-to-1 underdog for your entire stack. Leading wins a lot of pots without a fight. On balance, I believe this key factor overcompensates for the benefits of a check-raise strategy.5. Don't build a draw when out of position.
We see from our previous discussions that it is often necessary to bet a draw in order to play it in a profitable manner. So, what happens when you bet and get called? If your opponent has position on you, this presents alternatives that have their drawbacks. If you bet again, you have only one more shot to make your hand, and really are praying for a fold. If you check, your opponent may get wise to the situation and try to blow you out of the pot. The practical solution to this uncomfortable situation is to avoid it. If you have position, you can often get a free card if you want one. Drawing hands are more in need of good position than made hands. You can cut down on the number of times you play a draw from out of position by looking at the nature of your hand and staying out of the pot when up front. Here are a couple of suggestions for when to be doing that.
First, quit chasing that dab you already have in the pot when you are in the small blind. When you are looking at something like the 10
limit hold'em, it would be rare to get inadequate odds to draw to a straight or flush. Even if the pot odds are insufficient, the implied odds will normally make it correct to stay in the pot if facing only a single bet. But no-limit is a different game that has its own strategy. Here are some tips for handling a draw in no-limit hold'em. In this column, I will discuss just the typical draw: eight outs for a straight and nine outs for a flush. (Big draws such as a straight and flush draw or a flush draw with two overcards have their own rules of engagement.)
Second, quit calling from up front when holding ace-rag suited. If your kicker is lower than a 10, you know that you are hoping mainly for the nut-flush draw. That is a good hand, but it plays much better when having good position. So, show some discipline and muck the hand.
Getting the most out of a drawing hand is the hallmark of the expert. The key point is, you must be aggressive with your draws in no-limit hold'em
, because the large bet you can make gives you a lot of leverage to move your opponent off his hand.
"Heads I win, tails I still might win by hitting my draw" is a good gambler's kind of coin flip.