Texas Holdem Drawing Hands

A drawing hand is a hand that isn’t a good poker hand yet, but can become one with the help of the board.

Example: Your start hand is 4-6 and the flop consists of 5-Q-7. You now have a straight draw, since you have the 4-5-6-7 of a straight. More exactly, you have an open ended straight draw, since a 3 or a an 8 would complete the straight.

When playing No Limit Texas Hold’em, it is very easy to be lead astray by a draw. They seem so promising and it is so difficult to throw them away, even in situations where we know that the odds of actually completing the hand are bleak.

drawThis is the rule I usually follow when I play No Limit Texas Hold’em:

  • I play the hand if I draw to a really great hand and have the odds on my side.
  • In all other situations, I discard the hand and cut my losses. (Unless the hand is good in its own right, e.g. a hand that is simultaneously the pair A-A and a flush draw.)

So, when do I consider a hand a great hand? A great hand is a hand that is good enough for me to be willing to go all-in. If the hand I’m drawing to isn’t good enough for me to be willing to risk all my chips, then I discard the hand here and now.

Example: I have the starter hand 2-T and the flop consist of 3-4-5. I know have a straight draw, but I also know that there might be someone else out there who is holding a 7. I don’t want to complete my straight only to find myself beaten by a higher straight. I wouldn’t be willing to go all in with the straight 2-3-4-5-6 and this is why I don’t play my straight draw in this scenario.

Similarly, I would be wary if I had a straight draw and there were three suited cards on the table or a pair on the table. The risk of someone else getting a flush or a full house that beats my straight is high enough for me to discard my hand.

Here are a two other examples of guidelines that I tend to follow when I play No Limit Texas Hold’em:

  • If I have a straight draw or a flush draw, I take both the pot size and the odds into account. I only call if the pot is at least three times larger than the cost of calling (if I call at all). Example: My opponent bets $2 on the flop. Calling would cost me $2. I only call if the pot holds $6 or more. If calling would cost med $100, I would only call if there were at least $300 in the pot, and so on.
  • I don’t play a flush draw if there is a pair on the table. I don’t want to make my flush only to find out at showdown that my opponent has a full house.
  • If the board has three flush cards or three straight cards, there is a big chance of someone making a straight or a flush if they stay in the pot until showdown. If I have a set in this situation, I usually play the hand.
  • If I have an over pair with a paired board, I usually play the hand. I only call small bets (max 2% of my stack).