I can write a book on Texas Hold’em. However, even though I have played professionally for 3 years, I can’t write a better book than Doyle Brunson, who has one heck of a lot more experience and success that I will ever have. So I won’t waste my time or yours. I can take some specific details and write a more detailed analysis than you will find in a general How To Win At Hold’em Poker type book. I know this may be of interest only to players who really like Poker and want to excel. My goal is to author three articles specific to drawing hands in Texas Hold’em poker:
1) How To Play A Flush Draw
2) How To Play A Straight Draw
3) How To Play A Full House Draw
These are the major drawing hands at an average Texas Hold’em poker circle table or tournament table. If this analysis is too detailed for your current level of play start at my more general articles on poker such as How Not To Play Texas Hold’em Poker, and my articles about reading players “tells”.
This is part 1, which will analyze the correct way to play a flush draw hand at an average nine player Texas Hold’em poker table. It is much easier to play pocket pairs than drawing hands and I have previously written three articles which explain the tactical play and analysis involved with playing pocket aces, pocket nines and pocket deuces. The reason it is much easier to play pocket pairs is because players tend to get more emotionally involved with drawing hands than pocket pairs, which are easier to fold if the flop doesn’t improve your hand. For example, if you have pocket 9’s and K, A, 9 flop you have a set of nines which very likely will be the winner already and may yet improve even further. If you have king, queen of spades, and flop a 2, 7 of spades and a jack of hearts, you have improved to a flush draw. However, while three nines is a made hand (i.e. a hand that can win the game on its own) a four flush is helpless unless that 5th spade falls on the turn or the river. It is not yet a made hand. In fact it may be a hand made for your personal disaster.
Scenario 1 – Your first two cards are 7 & 6 suited and you are not the big blind or you are the big blind and someone raises the bet. You should fold. Some people like to play low suited connectors. I believe this is not good long term strategy and will cost you more than it is worth.
Scenario 2 – Your first two cards are A & 6 suited and you are not the big blind or you are the big blind and someone raises the bet. You should fold here as well. The ace can theoretically give you a shot at the nut flush but really pulling for a flush with no secondary pulls is a very bad percentage move. There is only about a 2% chance you will actually pull a flush starting with two suited cards. If an Ace falls on the flop you are stuck in the hand with Aces and a low kicker. This can cost you a lot of money.
Scenario 3 – Your first two cards are AKs (s = suited), AQs, AJs, A10s, KQs, KJs, K10s, QJs, and borderline hands K9s, Q10s, J10s. These are the playable hands for a flush draw because the cards can lead to a straight as well. They may also lead to top pair with a high kicker. After the flop the scenario will evolve depending on the 3 community cards just turned. If the flop contains two suited cards which match your pocket suited cards, you have a legitimate flush draw hand. An even better case scenario is if 3 suited cards flop which match you suited pocket cards. This is a made hand and your only problem now is to maximize your win. The one exception is the rare case where you have a KQs and another player has an AX (X = any card) suited in the same suit as your cards.
Best Strategies For A Four Flush On The Flop Play
Unlike high pair strategy, you want to keep as many people in the pot as possible but with only modest betting until you actually make your flush. The reason for this is that a high card flush will usually win the pot but unless you make your draw, you are in a relatively very weak position. You have to assume that there are other players around the table with top pair, two pair or even three of a kind. With one exception you will be drawing for the probable winner and don’t want to invest very much money until you actually have made your hand. With several players in the pot your modest bet is more highly leveraged. You do not want to be pot committed and wind up with a four flush. I suggest that with only one or two additional players still active, you should probably fold with a four flush draw if there is a very large bet in front of you. The odds of making your draw is only 20% on the turn and then only 20% on the river for a total of 40%. A large bet in front of you may be the end of your tournament or a big cash loss in a circle game. Calling a very large bet is in fact gambling and a skillful player wants to keep the gambling factor to a minimum.
What is worse for your flush draw is a pair on the board. That is the one exception which I mentioned above. A pair means that someone may have a full house. This is bad news for the flush draw since a full house beats a flush. You will be drawing dead if this is the case. Definitely do not go in against a high bettor if there is a pair showing. Of course if you have made your flush when the pair hit, you have one hard decision to make. I would recommend that you read my article on “Tells” since your decision will have to be made on your best judgment of whether your opponent is full or just is bluffing or semi-bluffing.
If you have a flush draw try to keep the pot moderate with as many people staying in as possible. Don’t become pot committed before you have a made hand. Play your hand according to what the flop brings. Get out as soon as it looks like you investment of additional money is throwing good money after bad.
Good luck! I hope this helps. Please let me know if you can think of a better strategy because I want to win more money as well.