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Poker On The Draw
 
 

When inexperienced players begin playing poker, many times, they play was too loose. What does that mean? Well, for starters, they play too many starting hands. Then to compound that error, they keep on going in the hand with weak pairs and/or they chase draws with terrible odds.

As a player plays more, they make these mistakes less often. This happens when players will learn about odds and pot odds or they learn that their hand has a certain probability of improving, and they compare this probability to the cost of the bet and the size of the pot. If they’ve really done their homework, they might even add some implied pot odds by looking at what they will win, should they hit their hand.

However, they haven’t learned something very important. On the flop, they make decisions based on the odds of improving with 2 cards to come without considering how much it will cost them to draw. I am here to warn you against making the same mistake.

For example, you are playing 1-2 no limit hold em. There is $8 in the pot and your opponent bets $2. This means to have 5-1 pot odds and you have a gutshot straight draw. By the river, you have 5-1 odds of actually hitting your draw. This is where your mistake lies. You are basing it on having 2 cards to come. Why is this a mistake?

Well, because you neglected to include the cost of the turn bet. You must remember to do this in your initial calculation. In our example, the 5-to-1 odds against improving are based on seeing two more cards, so you must include the cost of receiving two cards in your calculation. Therefore, you need to be able to win $15 in order for calling to be correct ($3 times 5). With only $5 in the pot on the flop, it would be difficult to win the additional $10 from your opponents that justifies chasing your draw.

Ok, say you included the cost of that turn bet. You are still incorrect when you decide to chase with 2 cards to come. However, with bigger bets, calling on the flop and folding to a bigger turn bet can be correct. I’ll explain. For example, assume that in the above scenario, there is $8 in the pot, and you are faced with a $2 bet. If you are using odds with two cards to come, you would calculate your cost to be $2 on the flop and $4 on the turn, for a total of $6. With your hand 5-to-1 against improving, you would determine that you need to win $20 in this pot to justify calling. It is doubtful that you would win an additional $10 on the turn and river from your opponents, so you decide to fold.

But, folding is a mistake. On the flop, you have to pay only $2 to see one more card. The odds of improving on the next card are 11-to-1. Therefore, you need to win a total of $11 to justify calling on the flop. With $8 in the pot, you are getting pretty good implied odds that you will win an additional $4 on the turn and/or river to justify a single call on the flop. It is often correct to call on the flop when the bets are small, and then fold on the turn if you miss your draw when the bets get bigger. Sometimes you eliminate this possibility when using odds with two cards to come.

Another mistake that beginners make when using odds with two cards to come is that they feel committed to seeing the river no matter what happens. There are other factors you must consider. You must consider your position and how many players are left to act and what else your opponents might have. Failing to do this could mean still losing a hand even if you hit your draw.

So how should you make your decisions on whether or not to draw? The simple answer is one street at a time. Calculate your odds on the flop and if you miss on the turn, calculate the odds again. When you do this, making decisions one step at a time, then you will make less mistakes and improve your overall profit.