Playing Draws in No Limit Holdem – Don’t Get Reeled In!

Playing Draws in No Limit HoldemEven though draws are one of the biggest problem areas for new players, they are actually pretty easy to play if you can get a few basics down.

The main problem players have with draws is playing them way too passive. Draws are not good hands to check and call with in the hopes of getting the right card. The only time you should be calling with draws is when you’re getting the right pot odds.

Playing draws with aggression is the effective way to play them.

Aggression in poker is one of your biggest weapons in almost any situation. Aggression with draws means you either bet and raise them or you fold them. There is no middle ground for calling with draws except when you’re getting those pot odds we mentioned earlier. You want to pick your spots and attack with precision.

By playing your draws with aggression, you give yourself two chances to win the hand:

  1. You can complete your draw and win the hand.
  2. You can make your opponent fold. While you won’t win every pot with a draw, the additional chance to win the hand does help you.

When you play your draws aggressively, it confuses your opponents. When you play draws the same as you play made hands, your opponents will never know what to expect from you. If your opponents know you play your draws fast, they’re going to give more action to your made hands as well. Every time you make a bet or raise, they’re going to wonder if you’re just on a draw.

Just keep in mind that you don’t want to become a bluff monkey with your draws. Remember, I said you want to pick your spots and attack with precision. You can’t semi-bluff your draws into calling stations because they’ll just call! When you bet draws into fishy players, you’re really just giving yourself poor pot odds by unnecessarily spending money.

Think about it like this: calling stations are passive players which means they don’t bet or raise nearly as much as they should. Why bet into them when you can easily just take free cards against them? This way you can just hit your draws for free and then bet and get loose calls from those opponents.

You also want to avoid betting your draws if there are multiple people in the pot with you. Every additional person in the pot makes it more likely your bet will just get called. With more opponents in the pot, there is a higher chance one of them hit something and will call. On top of that, everyone in the pot will have greater pot odds and they will be more likely to call you with their draws.

Never chase draws that aren’t to the nuts or near-nuts

Now, to change the subject a little bit, I want to talk about drawing to non-nut hands. One of the most expensive mistakes a poker player can make is drawing to second-best hands.

Drawing to second-best hands are situations similar to this: you have a flush draw on a paired board but your opponent already has a full house. That, obviously, is a bad place to draw.

If you try to draw to the flush in the above example, you’re going to lose money no matter what. Most of the time you’re just going to throw away good money by chasing the draw and missing. The times you do hit your draw are even worse because it’s still a second-best hand.

Even if you’re getting favorable pot odds, there’s not a lot of upside to it. The implied odds just aren’t there. If your opponent has that superior hand, you’re just going to lose a lot of money.

If he doesn’t have that superior hand, you’re not going to get much money out of him because the board will be quite scary looking. Think about that example earlier with the flush draw on the paired board. Your opponent will see the paired board and the possible flush out there. If he doesn’t have either one of those two hands, he’s not going to put much money in the middle.

Consider stack sizes when playing draws

You want to win a lot of money with your draws, so don’t go out of your way to play draws against short stacked opponents. They don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile. If you’re getting immediate pot odds, it’s fine to call against a shortstack but that’s about it. There’s just not a lot of potential there.

Well, that’s about all I’ve got on draws today. So remember: play your draws with aggression, don’t chase draws that aren’t to the nuts and always look at stack sizes before you draw. If you can keep those three concepts in mind, you’ll be in great shape.