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Using Odds to Play Flush and Straight Draws

When it comes to big draws, often times your opponents make you pay big to see the next card. Although you could make a nut hand, you could also completely miss, so it is crucial to evaluate if it is profitable to see the next card. To do this, you should use a combination of pot odds, implied odds, and the odds of making your hand. We’ll talk about all of those topics in this article, and have you well on your way to making smart decisions after crunching the numbers.

Odds of Making Hands - First, we’ll go over the odds of completing some common draws – bear with me, this can be slightly boring. The first draw, and perhaps the most common, is the flush draw. If you have four to a flush on the flop, you are roughly 2:1 to make the flush on either the turn or the river. If you have four to a flush on the turn, you are roughly 4:1 to make the flush on the river.

To make a straight, there are a few different odds combinations. If you have a gutshot straight draw on the flop, you are 5:1 to make your draw on the turn or the river. If you miss on the turn, you are now 10.5:1 to complete your straight on the river. If you have an open ended straight draw on the flop, you are roughly 2:1 to complete the draw on the turn or the river. If you have the same hand on the turn, you are 4.75:1 to make the straight on the river.

Pot Odds - Ok, so why are all those numbers important? Well, the reason is that you can compare the odds of making your hand to the odds you will have to call to continue in the hand. It is easiest to explain through an example hand where you are playing a draw, so read on:

Say you have a flush draw on the flop, and know that you’re 2:1 to make the flush on either the turn or the river. Because you are only going to make the hand roughly 33% of the time, you should only call a bet that is less than or equal to 33% of the pot. So, if the pot is $10, and your opponent bets $5, you should continue with the hand because the total pot is now $15 and you only have to put $5 more in. If the bet were any larger than $5, you’d have to fold because the pot odds are no longer in your favor.

These calculations can be applied to any situation, regardless of what draw you have or what sized bet is made. If you find the math overwhelming at the table, make sure to round some of the numbers to make it easier to figure it out quickly.

Implied Odds - The one time that you might go against pot odds is if you think your implied odds call for the opposite decision. Implied odds are the changes to the pot odds that you can imply based on your opponents tendencies and hand. For example, if you have a flush draw on the flop but are facing a pot sized bet (a 1:1 bet), traditional pot odds would dictate that you should fold. However, if you believe your opponent has a monster hand, and wouldn’t fold even if the flush draw hit, you should continue on because your actual odds are much greater as you know that if you hit the flush, you’ll take his/her whole stack.

This also works the other way. If you have the same flush draw, and are facing a 3:1 bet, normal pot odds would dictate you to call. However, if your opponent is a good player, and you expect him/her to fold if the flush draw hits, you should actually fold because the draw won’t be worth anything even if you make it.

Always make sure to consider your pot odds, implied odds, and draw odds when at the table to make better decisions. It’s even easier at an online poker site, because the bet sizes and pot sizes are displayed for you. Good luck!

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