Big risks can lead to big gains. They can also lead to disaster during a tournament or cash game. The drawing hands are generally quickly passed over in most general How To Play Texas Hold’em Poker books. The reason is that they entail the maximum gambles in Hold’em poker. Most writers try to convince their readers that their is so much skill in this form of poker that if you read their books, fame and fortune can be yours. I’m here to tell you that skillful play over the long run will keep your head above water. In the short term however, there is a very high element of luck and a very real element of gambling in this game.
I know this article may be of interest only to players who really like Poker and want to excel. My goal is to provide three articles specific to the following drawing hands:
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 3, which will analyze the correct way to play a full house draw hand at an average nine player Texas Hold’em poker table. Playing a full house draw hand is much easier than playing a four flush or four straight draw hand. The reason is obvious. If you have a full house draw hand you already have either two pair or three of a kind. Both of which are already made hands which may be a winner even without improvement. Conversely, you may have a very good idea at any point in the game that your two pair or trips are a loser. You can then go out very quickly because the odds of you pulling a full house with two pair are only 9% with one card to go or 18% with two cards to go. The odds are not much better for trips becoming and full house.
Scenario 1 – You have a pair of pocket nines and 66J falls on the flop. You are not the big blind or you are the big blind and someone significantly raises the bet in front of you. You should fold. Most likely you are facing a higher two pair of JJ66 or you are facing trip sixes. The odds of a third nine turning is less than 9% for both the turn and the river combined, abysmal odds. Subtract the odds of a player with two Jacks finding a third even if you do turn a 9 and your odds of winning are reduced to less than 5%. The course of action here should be very clear – fold.
Scenario 2 – Your first two cards are AJ and you are lucky enough to pull an AJ8 flop. You now have top pair and second pair kickers. About all you have to worry about is that someone has pocket eights and are sitting on a set of eights. You should bet or raise 3 or 4 times the big blind even if someone has raised the bet in front of you. If you are then re-raised you can be pretty sure that there are trips in play and should consider folding unless the player who re-raised is as loose as a goose or drunk or both.
Scenario 3 – Your first two cards are 99 and the flop is 9JK. This is a made hand and your only problem now is to maximize your winnings. Watch out for two potential deal breakers. First if the turn car is a 10 or Q, only one card is needed for the straight and there is a fair chance someone has it. If a player bets high, you have only a 20% chance to pull a full house by one of the board cards being paired on the river. Even though it is hard to muck trips, if this player is a solid, tight player, you certainly should consider this option or risk loosing a lot of money.
If you have two pair, including the top pair play them aggressively. You have a good chance of winning even if you don’t improve. Keep alert for changes in behavior if three suited cards or three ordered cards fall. Your odds of pulling the full house are not favorable. Try to get the flush draws and straight draws to fold by a solid raise. 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.