Poker is much more complicated than it looks on the surface. Beginners may think poker is just waiting until you get a good hand and win; it is a game of luck. In reality, strategy and skill are much more important to poker than luck, so much so that poker is sometimes considered a sport. There are several reasons poker is more skill-based than you may think. The biggest reason is that beginners often have a flawed perception of how luck works in poker. There’s no denying luck exists, sometimes you have bad beats and downswings. While unlucky streaks and moments are natural, they mean much less in the long run. The best poker players maximize their profits over time with a solid strategy, allowing them to overcome their short-term luck.
While actual luck in the form of the cards you get is not that important, that doesn’t mean games are monotonous. The amount of variables that change every game emphasizes poker strategy, and it rewards those who know more than one playstyle, adapting to whatever the game throws at them. Players must change their playstyle to fit their opponents, position, and, most especially, the cards they get. This poker guide will cover a problem for many beginning poker players: Playing drawing hands. It will explain what drawing hands are and give you several tips for success with them.
Drawing hands and related terms explained
In poker, you can either have a made hand (a completed hand that is at least as strong as a pair), air (a hand with nothing good and no chance of improving), or a draw (a hand that isn’t made yet but has the potential to improve with one or two more cards). Draws are usually seen with strong five-card combo hands like straights and flushes. Generally, a regular draw only requires one more card to complete, while a backdoor draw requires two cards to complete making it highly unlikely to be completed. Depending on the potential hand, there are also more types of draws, like gutshot straight draws, which need a specific middle card to complete, and open-ended straight draws that can be completed with either a low or a high card. Outs refer to the cards that can complete your draw. If you have a gutshot straight draw, you have four outs since only one card rank completes your straight, but there are four suits that card can come from.
The key to drawing hands: Pot odds
Pot odds are a mathematical technique in poker you can use to decide if calling a bet is worth it. It takes the odds of winning the pot by completing your draw, the size of the bet you have to call, and the size of the pot you stand to win. Doing this allows you to mathematically determine if calling a bet with your drawing hand would be a profitable decision in the long run. While this is incredibly useful, you must understand that poker is a long-term game, and pot odds do not affect whether you will hit your draw. You could have excellent pot odds and still lose or get a miracle draw even when your pot odds are horrible. All they do is tell you if that specific call will be profitable on average if repeated enough times.
Implied odds with drawing hands
Pot odds are not the end-all-be-all of deciding when to call. Another concept known as implied odds is often considered when making a call. The reasoning behind them is simple: If you expect the pot to get bigger after you call, it might still be a good idea, even if your pot odds are not good. Unlike pot odds, implied odds have no mathematical basis; they come with experience. Things that could affect implied odds include player playstyles, as loose and aggressive players will often continue to bet and build the pot in future rounds. Board texture also matters as a connected board will scare players about potential draws and make them more likely to fold.
Semi-bluffs with drawing hands
Drawing hands can be used as a special kind of bluff known as a semi-bluff. A semi-bluff essentially gives you two chances to win. You’re not entirely reliant on your opponent folding as you would with a typical bluff, and you’re also not entirely reliant on hitting your draw like a value bet. They’re very similar to regular bluffs, but that chance of hitting your draw is an excellent backup in case your opponent doesn’t fold. If you get your draw, the pot will also be larger than a regular value bet. Semi-bluffs are powerful tools and should often be considered, especially against tight players.
Knowing when to fold a draw
Finally, it is crucial to understand that drawing hands should never be treated as made hands. Even flush draws, the kind most likely to be completed, only give you a 9:38 chance of completing it, assuming you got your draw on the flop. That means there is only about a 1 in 4 chance of making your hand, so it is unrealistic to expect yourself to hit draws consistently. Use pot odds to determine whether calling is a good idea, and don’t be ashamed of folding draws when the situation looks rough.
Where to play online poker
We hope this article taught you how to play poker with drawing hands. If you want to practice your skills and improve, you should play on sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Online poker is the best form of poker for practicing for several reasons. You can play more hands in less time, meaning you will frequently run into draws. You can also play whenever and wherever you want, and finally, you can use poker tracking software to spot mistakes and significantly improve your game.