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Showing posts with label drawing hands. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drawing hands. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Limit Holdem: Making Fewer Mistakes Part 2 (Bad Draws)

In the first part of this article I talked about making fewer starting hand mistakes in Limit Holdem which isn’t as simple as playing aces kings and ace-king only.  The next most common mistake limit players make is continuing on the flop and turn with bad draws.

What is a bad draw?

A bad draw is a draw that will not win enough money when you win to offset your current and future contributions to the pot when you lose. 

30752590A beginner’s approach to this is to look at the pot odds for a draw compared to your odds of making that draw with one card.  For example if you can call a bet for $10 and the pot already has $100 in it then the pot is laying you 10:1 odds, therefore if the odds of making your draw are less than 10:1 the you should call and if they are greater you should fold.  Pot odds has some flaws, namely:

  1. It doesn’t take into account future action on the hand.  With some draws you are more likely to get paid off on the river (or even have your opponent raise you) when you make your hand.  This concept is called implied odds and basically means comparing your total contribution to the pot when all cards are dealt to the final (obviously estimated) amount of the pot.
  2. It doesn’t take into account the times that you make your draw and still lose the hand.  This concept is called reverse-implied odds.  A common example of this is drawing to a flush that isn’t ace-high (a non-nut flush draw).  Sometimes one of your opponents will have a larger flush draw and you will end up paying extra bets on the end when you make your draw.  Other common examples are drawing to non-nut straights or drawing to a hand like two pair (sometimes your opponent will have a set or even a full house when you make your hand)
  3. Many players don’t see all of the draws available to them in order to more accurately estimate their chances of winning when all the cards are dealt.
  4. The way you play the hand (perhaps by raising instead of calling) can affect not only your likelihood of winning the hand but also the amount of money that ultimately goes into the pot.

So ok that is a lot to think about and being able to accurately estimate the amount the final pot size and how much you’ll have to invest to get there is a skill that requires experience, however there are some mistakes that people make in limit holdem that are so bad they are quite easy to identify and take advantage of:

Mistake #1: the inability to lay down a pocket pair, especially in non heads-up situations

You’ve definitely seen this one if you’ve played any amount of limit Holdem…  There are certain players that absolutely cannot fold pocket pairs regardless of how unlikely they are to win.  You will see people call down to the river with pocket tens while the flop is Ace King Four against three opponents.  The general rule of thumb for pocket pairs is that you want to flop a set and in most cases if you do not you should fold your hand.  If your pocket pair doesn’t give you 1) a set, or 2) an overpair or 3) the high end of an open ended straight draw then in almost all cases you should abandon it on the flop vs. more than one opponent.

Mistake #2: weak straight draws while there is a flush draw on board

If there is a flush draw on the flop then you only want to be drawing at the top end of an open ended straight draw and even then you should often abandon this hand if there aren’t enough people in the pot.   You will notice some people that will draw with the bottom end of a gutshot straight draw when there are only one or two people in the pot.  You need to first mark these people with a little green dot in your poker client and then you need to take advantage of them by betting your stronger draws and made hands consistently against them.

Mistake #3: non-nut flush and straight draws heads up.

30424363When you are in small pot situations and you don’t think there’s a decent chance your hand may be best right now it is often correct to dump many draws when you are playing heads up (for example the button raises and you are the only caller in the big blind).  Usually the flop call is correct and the turn call is incorrect if your opponent has a better made hand than you do (when drawing to a nut flush, for example, your ace high alone may give you the best made hand).  In these situations it is a matter of knowing your opponent and what range of hands they are likely to play to know if you should abandon your hand or play it more aggressively if there’s a decent chance you can get them to lay down a better hand than yours.

If you have a simple draw and decide that drawing (check/calling) is the correct move then you should often draw on the flop and fold on the turn if you haven’t improved and if your draw has less than 10 outs.  Keep in mind you may have other outs besides your main draw.  In a heads-up situation, for example, your ace may be good if you are drawing to the nut flush.

Mistake #4: Drawing with less than six outs with one card to come.

It is almost always wrong to draw to a gutshot straight draw or worse (most common worse draw is hoping to hit a set with a pocket pair) on the turn.  It is a rare pot that is SO huge that you can afford to chase your hand in this situation.  You’ll be plugging a big leak if you can get out of hands in this situation.


If you can learn to take advantage of other people making these four mistakes and avoid making them yourself you will see an immediate improvement in your limit results.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

When Aggression is Bad

Some time ago on the Low Limit Forums a hand came up which demonstrated why being aggressive might not always be the best choice in a low limit loose/passive game.

The situation was the hero holding

AsJs in middle position.

The UTG player limped and the hero raised. Two players after him cold call the raise and the big blind and UTG player called. 5 people see the flop which is:


Definitely this is a huge flop for the hero's hand with 12 outs to the nuts in a five handed game. The big blind checks, the UTG player bets and the hero...

This is where the discussion came in. The hero definitely can raise here from the value of their cards, but they'll be forcing three players to cold call two bets on the flop and will most likely force one or more of them out. The argument for raising here is usually that the pot is already "large" (5.5 big bets preflop) and you can gain overcard outs (for example if the flop were all low cards you could get a hand like KQ to lay down their hand which would free up additional outs for your jack to win the hand even if a queen or king comes as well). In this situation there really isn't any overcard hand which would lay down here that you really want to lay down here. You are either beating any ace in the pot, or their kicker (AQ) will give you the nut straight. In a five handed pot you will usually have to hit one of your 12 nut outs to win the hand so what you really want is to have as many callers as possible (and for as much money as possible at least on the flop), however raising here is usually the wrong move because you increase your investment in the pot and will probably reduce the number of opponents. You also leave the opportunity for a later position player to become aggressive on the flop which you welcome.

The bottom line is to be know why you are raising your strong drawing hands on the flop so you know when this move doesn't apply. If the flop had been instead:


Then raising in this position would probably be the right move because you are much more likely to gain additional overcard outs.

For more strategy tips for Low Limit Holdem visit Low Limit Holdem Strategy and Tactics

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