Playing Draws in No Limit Hold'em

As most players know, the largest pots in Hold'em are often won with draws rather than with big pocket pairs. The key to winning these large pots is solid postflop play, whether it be by betting out to steal the pot, or by slow playing your draw so you can conceal your hand's true identity.

Many players (especially when they're sitting on large stacks) enjoy seeing flops with small suited connectors such as 8h-9h or 4d-5d. These hands can be very powerful because they often flop major draws. The key to playing these draws is to disguise your draw, so that if you are fortunate enough to hit, you can get paid off.

This article will teach you how to play a draw in No Limit Hold'em. We explain how to play a draw on the flop, the turn, and the river. Read on for more information.

Playing the Flop with a Draw

When you flop a major draw such as four to a flush or an open ended straight draw, we recommend playing the hand fast. This will accomplish three things:

  1. You will become the aggressor. This is useful because other players may get scared and fold later in the hand, or may even just fold right then and there.
  2. You represent a made hand. This is also useful for pushing players around later in the hand.
  3. You disguise your hand. If you do complete your draw, very few players will put you on that hand.

You should only lead out if everyone checks to you, or if you are the first player to act. If someone else has already bet the flop, we recommend smooth calling. Smooth calling may hint to your opponent that you have a draw, but a raise really isn't a great option because you are getting too much money into the pot without a made hand.

If you decide to raise your opponent with a draw, you need to make the right sized raise. We recommend raising to the total current size of the pot. So, if the pot is $50 (including your opponent's bet), we recommend putting in a $50 raise. This is enough money to deter your opponent from calling, but isn't enough money that it looks like a desperation bluff. If your opponent comes back over the top you probably have to go all in because of the pot odds.

Playing the Turn with a Draw

One of two things can happen on the turn: either you make your draw, or you don't make your draw.

If You Made Your Hand

If you made your flush or straight, we recommend betting out. This is a much better play than the normal "check and hope the other player falls for it", because that tactic has been used far too much. Nowadays if a flush or straight card hits, players are actually suspicious if another player all of a sudden checks after betting the flop.

If your opponent bets into you, calling or raising are both good plays. If you think he/she is a very aggressive player, we recommend just calling so he/she can lead out again on the river. If the other player is a tighter player, we recommend putting in a raise now and hoping that he/she has a decent hand and gets their money in the pot.

If You Are Still Drawing

If you missed your draw, we recommend slowing down. Check to your opponent, and if he/she bets you can either call or fold based on the pot odds. If the odds of you making your draw are greater than the odds the pot is offering you, make the call. If the odds of you making your draw are worse than the odds the pot is offering you, fold.

Playing the River with a Draw

If you have completed your draw (either on the turn or the river) we recommend betting/raising as much as you think your opponent will call. Your hand is probably best here, and may even be the nuts, so you want to get as much money in the pot as you can. If your opponent checks to you, make a value bet. If your opponent bets into you, make a sensibly sized raise based on his/her stack size and the current pot size.

If you missed your draw again, and haven't improved whatsoever, throw the hand away. There's no sense bluffing away chips when you hold nothing. If you improved in another way (perhaps picked up a pair or two) you can go to a showdown if you think you are good.

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