Why You Should Be Playing Draws Aggressively

Playing draws

Everyone in poker loves being dealt big pocket pairs such as aces, kings, and queens not only because they are the three strongest hands in no limit Hold’em, but they are easier to play as you tend to know where you stand in the hand. What about when you have straight or flush draws? What is your strategy for playing draws? We advocate ramping up the aggression.

You will flop a straight when holding any two connecting hands, such as jack-ten through five-four, once in every 76 hands or 1.4 percent of the time. Flopping a flush is an even longer shot with the math averaging once in every 118 hands, or 0.8 percent of the time on average. These figures show you will spend much of your time in Hold’em games without a made hand so knowing how to play draws can make or break your bankroll.

How should you play draws? As always in poker, the answer is it depends. There are dozens of factors to consider, including your table image, how your opponents play, your opponents’ skill level and the texture of the board as not all flops are created equally.

Playing Draws: The Passive Approach

Sit and watch a Hold’em cash game or tournament for long enough and you will see how different players approach draws. Many, too many in fact, play their draws passively. You will have seen them check-calling the flop and turn hoping to hit one of their outs to a straight or flush before coming out betting when one of those draw completing hands lands on the board.

This can be a profitable approach sometimes, but let us delve into such hands and see why playing draws passively can be a bad idea and why playing draws aggressively can yield more profit, even when you inevitably miss that draw.

Playing a draw passively means you only have one way to win the hand: to complete your draw. As soon as you have check-called the flop and turn with a draw out there, any poker player worth their salt is going to know your hand almost exactly and will be able to lose the minimum to you if the draw comes in. You are essentially leaving money at the table by playing passive poker.

Now let us take a look at why playing draws aggressively can be a much better option. You see, aggression is key to becoming a winning poker player. How many of the world’s best poker players do you see playing passively compared to playing aggressive poker that keeps their opponents on their toes and wondering what cards they have in there hand. I would be willing to wager zero elite players play passive as a rule.

This is because being aggressive, that is betting and raising not screaming in the face of your opponent gives you more opportunities to win the hand. You can either improve to the winning hands when you hit your draw or you can force your opponent to fold and win the pot without a showdown. Either is a great result.

Playing Draws Aggressively

Imagine this scenario, you raise preflop with As-Ks and find one caller. The flop comes down Ts-7d-3s, meaning you have nothing but an ace-high flush draw. You could check with the plan to call a bet from your opponent, or you could make a continuation bet yourself. Betting here builds the pot for when you hit your draw, gives your opponent the chance to fold a better hand than yours such as pocket sixes or pocket eights, and it gives you more options on the turn and river.

Staying with this example, you bet and your opponent calls. The turn falls the 4c, another card that has missed you. Betting again could be a good idea because you have 15 outs and will hit one of them on the river almost 33 percent of the time. Your opponent would likely fold here if they have not been dealt a big pair, which is unlikely because they did not re-raise preflop or on the flop. They could even fold a ten in this spot.

Let us say they call and the river is the Qs, completing your flush. You are free to bet again now with what is certain to be the best hand, but also a hand that your opponent is less likely to pin on you because of how you played the hand; aggressively. The same works of the river was the Qd. You can probably still bet here because you could have easily held As-Qs and were playing the flush draw aggressively and have now hit the queen, in the eyes of your opponents.

While being able to play draws aggressively is a good tool to have in your arsenal, you do need to make sure you do not go over the top and be reckless with that aggression because savvy opponents will set traps for you. Fire up an online poker site and try out this strategy for playing draws and compare it to how you get on if you opt for a passive approach. We are sure you will prefer the aggressive route.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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