Betting draws on the flop aggressively

by ~ February 8th, 2009. Filed under: Bankroll, Basics of poker, General poker strategy, Goals and plans, Philosophy and approach, Poker aggression, Poker theory.

* Modified April 13th, 2009 *

You ever have one of those “Ah ha!” moments?

Where you’ve been happily going along, and suddenly something comes into focus that you’re heard before but didn’t pay too much attention to it?

I’ve been playing draws wrong. I’ve been too often looking at pot odds and deciding whether to call or fold. Occasionally I’ll bet at draws, and then be lost when I miss, especially OOP.

But good draws are like AK preflop. They’ve got to be played aggressively because 1) you may win right there, 2) if you get called you’ve got outs, 3) if they hit, by betting before it hits you help disguise the fact that you had the draw.

Here’s a chart of some of the draws that I plugged into PokerStove.

OESD Overpair 9h8h AcAd Ts 7s 3d 34 Ts 7s 3d 2d 18
OESD + pair Overpair 9h8h AcAd 9s 7s 6d 46 9s 7s 6d 2d 30
OESD + pocket pair Overpair 9h9s AcAd 8h 7s 6d 39 9s 7s 6d 2d 23
OESD + FD Overpair 9h8h AcAd Th 7h 3d 56 Th 7h 3d 2d 34
Double gutshot Overpair 9h8h AcAd Js 7s 5s 34 Js 7s 5s 2d 18
FD + gutshot Overpair 9h8h AcAd 7h 5h 2s 48 7h 5h 2s 2d 23
Pair + FD Overpair 9h8h AcAd 9s 3h 2h 50 9s 3h 2h 4d 32
Pair + Gutshot Overpair 9h8h AcAd 8d 6s 5c 34 8d 6s 5c 4d 20
Overcards Pair AhKh 9c8c 9d 4s 3s 24 9d 4s 3s 6d 14
Overs + OESD Pair KhQh Jc2c Js Ts 3d 50 Js Ts 3d 4d 32
Overs + Gutshot Pair AhKh 9c8c Js Qs 8d 38 Js Qs 8d 2d 23
Over + FD Pair AhKh 9c8c 8d 2h 3h 54 8d 2h 3h 6d 34
Over + FD Pair AhKh 9c8c 8d 2h 3h 54 8d 2h 3h Td 62
Overs + FD + Gutshot Pair AhKh 9c8c 8d Qh Th 62 8d Qh Th 2d 41
Middle pair + overcard Top pair AhTh Jc5c Jd Ts 4s 22 Jd Ts 4s 2d 11
Bottom pair Overcards 4h3h KcJc Ts 8d 4s 72 Ts 8d 4s 2d 86
Two bigger cards AhKs 8c7d 62
Bigger and lower Ah5s Td9c 55
Bigger and lower Pair Ah2c 9s9d 30
Bigger Pair AhTs 9c9d 44

I’ve also included the stats for some all-in preflop situations so I’ve got them in one place.

The chance of winning is in the column after the flop, and the ones in red are the ones that I think I should play more aggressively. The last two columns are if the turn bricks, and you can see how your chances drop. Of course the odds are the same if the card that you needed to add to your draw came on the turn rather than the flop, ie. you only had backdoor draws on the flop but the flop was checked and the turn brings your draw.

If you just call the flop when you get pot odds, then 1) you’ve got nothing when you miss, and 2) it’s hard to get paid off with them when they hit, especially flush draws or top straights, the ones that just leap out at people.

Flush draws alone are a bit of a nuisance too. They’re good, but very hard to get paid for when they hit unless you bet before they fill, or you’re playing people who don’t pay attention. But in combination with a pair, overcards, or any other draw they’re pretty strong. Again though, they don’t have much showdown value if everything misses.

This doesn’t take into consideration the times that you might be up against a set, or the times that the other player has some of your outs, or when they might have you dominated with a bigger flush or straight draw, or when you’re up against 2 or more players. The more players in the hand, the more chance that they have you drawing dead if you don’t hold the nut flush or straight draw, or one person has an overpair and the other has a better draw than you, or one or more of them hold some of your outs.

On the other hand, I’ve measured these against AA or top pair. If your opponent is known to be aggressive postflop, either because of HUD stats or because it’s a tournament and they’re a big stack, then they may have nothing. Or, as I realized in a recent Sit and Go, if you are running low on chips, in the BB with two limpers, shove the flop and pick up the blinds since they might have nothing anyways. If they do, you still have outs.

Something else to consider; I’ve seen players, good players, play their weaker draws very aggressively, shoving the turn which is a massive pot overbet with what might be a pair with a gutshot for 20% chance of hitting on the river. And somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to recall Ed Miller talking about this somewhere but I’m not certain about that. I’ll put that on the back burner for not, for evaluation at a later date.

Anyway, another step up the ladder of understanding how to play this game.

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