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Understanding Odds in Draw Poker
Draw poker games are different from stud poker games. In stud poker games the challenge arises from the fact that not all cards are dealt before the betting begins. In draw poker the challenge is that players can discard some cards and draw fresh ones after preliminary betting rounds. How aggressively a player should bet in the preliminary rounds depends on the probability of getting a reasonable hand after the draw based on the cards dealt. Hence it is important for the player to know what are the opportunities available for improvement in hand ranking and also what are the chances of these opportunities materializing.
These issues are discussed in this article in the following manner: what cards the player should hold onto, what kind of hand he can expect from these cards and what are the odds for getting those hands. If the player has a pair in the five cards dealt he should hold on to it and replace the other three cards. From a pair he can improve to two pairs with the approximate odds of 5 to 1; or to three of a king with the approximate odds of 8 to 1; or a full house with the approximate odds of 100 to 1 or four of a kind with the approximate odds of 360 to 1. Hence starting with one pair the reasonable possibilities are for improvement to two pairs and three of a kind. The rest are really long shots.
If the player has a three of a kind in the five cards dealt he should hold on to it and replace the other two cards. The three of a kind can lead to a full house with the approximate odds of 15 to 1 and to four of a kind with the approximate odds of 23 to 1. The player should hold on to the following four cards and discard the fifth: four card flush that can lead to a flush with the approximate odds of 4 to 1; four consecutive cards to a straight that can lead to a straight with the approximate odds of 5 to 1; four cards leading to an inside straight with the approximate odds of 11 to 1; four consecutive cards to a straight flush with the approximate odds of 23 to 1; four cards leading to an inside straight flush with the approximate odds of 46 to 1.
These odds lead to the pre-draw betting strategy. One thing is clear. If a player does not hold a pair then he should fold. Experts suggest that even a pair is not sufficient. If the player’s turn is early in the round he should have at least a king pair and if his turn is among the last he should have at least a jack pair. With a pair or three of a kind in the dealt hand the player should avoid raising and stay with calling the bets. It is only when the player has four cards to a straight or flush in the dealt cards can he be aggressive early on and raise the bets.
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