Strong Drawing Hands
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Strong Drawing Hands: No Limit Texas Hold'em
There are drawing hands and there are strong drawing hands. Decent draws, like a flush draw (9 outs) or a straight draw (8 outs) are often worth a call, or even a semi-bluff raise, on the flop, but we often will have to fold on the turn if we do not improve or on the flop should the opponent raise us back. There are, however, some drawing hands that we do not mind playing extremely aggressive and getting all the money in on the flop with.
The strong draws are the so called combo draws. The best drawing hand is an open-ended straight flush draw. Let us assume the flop is 982 with 98 of hearts, and our hand JT of hearts. With this draw we have a massive fifteen outs (nine hearts and six non-heart straight cards). The pessimist might mumble something about only having jack high, but in reality, there are no hands we are in real trouble against.
The worst hand to face is a flopped set, against which we will win around 42% of the time. Against a higher flush draw we win 42-45% of the time, but against all other hands we are a favorite to win the pot - even against strong hands such as two pair or an over pair. This is a draw that we like to play just as if we held the nuts, very aggressive. We want to get as much money as possible - preferably the entire stack - on the flop.
This is mainly because of three reasons:
The odds are a little bit worse (just by a few percent) if the flop comes 982 with, for example, 92 of hearts, giving us an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw, but the same logic applies. Get the money in as soon as possible!
There are several other good combo draws that should be played in an aggressive fashion. A flush draw and a gutshot straight draw (i.e. T8 on J72, 12 outs) or top pair with a flush draw (i.e. JT on J72 with 72 in our suit). Even if the percentages of wining are a bit lower, we still profit by playing these aggressively, the same way as we would play a made hand. With these draws it is seldom wrong to make a pot-committing raise on the flop.
A somewhat trickier hand is for example AK of hearts on a 982 two-heart flop. We are ahead against hands like QQ or JJ, marginally behind KK, but big underdogs against a set. We should play a draw like this aggressive as well, but in this situation read is important. Was the opponent the preflop aggressor? That increases the chance of him having a high pocket pair. Did he just limp? That increases the risk of him having a set or two pair. In this situation, our gut feeling decides if we want to play for the entire stack or not, should we be forced to, but we definitely should bet/raise with this draw - as with all strong draws!
Written by Andris Kangeris for 24hPoker.com