Knowing how to play drawing hands in Texas Hold’em is one of essential skills every player needs to have. There is no way around getting involved in some pots with draws, so you need to know what do in these situations and how to proceed with a hand that could become the winner but isn’t there just yet.
An effective strategy for playing draws is quite complex as it entails many factors. While it would be impossible to sum it up in a short article, below are three valuable tips that should give you some general guidelines on how to proceed with your draws and make most money with these types of poker hands.
1. Be careful about playing non-nut draws
Players often make the mistake of playing their non-nut draws aggressively or committing way too many chips chasing a draw that won’t end up as the best hand. While you definitely have to play various draws and can’t just nut-pedal all the time, chasing draws to make what could easily be the second-best hand can often prove to be a very expensive mistake.
When you have a draw of this type, you need to be much more careful about your opponent’s hand range. If they aren’t likely to be on a better draw, for example, than trying to make your hand makes much more sense. In other words, if you believe your opponent has a big pocket pair, it makes much more sense to go after a small flush draw. If the spot is unclear, however, you need to stay alert.
2. Make sure you’re getting the right price
When you have a drawing hand, you need to make sure the price you’re paying to see the next card is worth it. This involves direct pot odds, odds of your hand improving, and also implied odds, i.e., how likely you are to get more money out of your opponent if you do make your hand.
However, don’t make the mistake of over-valuing your implied odds and disregarding the immediate odds. While implied odds are definitely a factor to consider, if someone’s betting huge on the flop or the turn, denying your equity, chasing after your draw in hopes of “getting” them isn’t a savvy strategy. If someone bets the full pot on the turn and you just have an open-ended straight draw, don’t try to convince yourself into calling simply because they have plenty of chips behind.
3. Be more aggressive out of position
There is a big difference between playing drawing hands in and out of position. When you’re in position, you’ll always have a certain level of control even if the other player is driving the action. This means you can afford to just call with your draws more often and try to realize your equity. At the very least, you will always have the full information about the price you need to pay to see the next card.
Out of position, however, things are much trickier. Playing your draws passively is often a bad idea because your opponent can figure out you’re on a draw and bet big on the turn to push you out. So, you should be more willing to resort to check-raising with decent draws when playing out of position.
This has several advantages: you could win the hand right then and there, you take control of the betting, and your play becomes much less predictable. This isn’t to say that you should always raise your draws out of position, but it is a weapon that you should have in your poker arsenal and use occasionally to keep things nicely balanced.