Chasing Straight Draws

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Chasing Straight Draws

Chasing straight draws is great in No Limit Holdem especially when you’ve got the open-ended nuts, however the theory and logica behind them is more coplex than it seems. There’s much more to take into account than just pot and implied odds.  You need to be thinking about future streets, your chip stack and what your opponent is going to do later.  Below are some tips for chasing straight draws.

Pot Odds for Straight Draws

First we need to know the correct pot odds: for a gutshot straight draw on the flop we have a 16% chance of completing it by the river, on the turn this figure reduces to 9%, so the odds aren’t that good.  You might think these odds are ok taking into account implied odds and all, but you need to anticipate what happens if you miss.  If we call a half-pot bet to see the turn and then a again for the river there’s a big danger of becoming pot-committed (and trust me opponents will make you pay when you’re chasing). 

An outside straight draw on the flop e.g. 6-7-8-9 gives us better odds of 31% by the river and 17% after the turn.  Notice that the odds of completing an open-ended straight draw on the river are better than making a gutshot straight draw on the turn and the river combined!

Don’t Check Straight Draws

It seems counter-intuitive but you should avoid checking pots with open ended straight draws out of position.  Here’s why.

Let’s say you’ve got 6d-7d and the flop hits: 4-5-K.   The natural tendency here is to check.  You don’t have anything, checking is the safest option and you wanted to see your draw cheaply right? 

Wrong.  By checking we are showing weakness, and this subsequently means he’ll be betting in the next streets making our chase more expensive.  By flat-calling our opponent our position becomes obvious, and if we’re facing half-pot bets on the turn and river we’ll get priced out.  By betting however, we improve our equity in the hand by several ways.

A) Firstly our perceived hand strength increases.  This means while our opponent might call us with a mid-pair on the flop, he’s more likely to check the turn and let us see a free card.  This gives us better pot-odds.

B) We could win the pot on the flop if our opponent has missed.  This gives us a good reason to bet the flop out of position.

C) By increasing the size of the pot we increase our implied odds to make the hand more profitable.

Reasons to Fold Straight Draws

1) Avoid chasing the low end of the straight i.e. 56789 instead of 78910J. You get negative implied odds and can be so easily dominated, it’s just not worth chasing given the chances of completing the draw anyway.

2) If there’s a pair on the board it reduces the relative strength of draws, so you shouldn’t be as eager to chase here – the full house has you beaten.

3) Gutshot straights give really weak odds (9% for the river) so you should be happy to fold these against big raises.  Remember that you really need to be looking ahead at future streets and what you’re opponent is going to do.  It’s 100% pointless calling the turn if you know your opponent is going to bet again on the river and price you out or make you become pot-committed.

Want to go beyond poker?  Why not give online gambling shot and learn some other types of games.

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