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Check Raising With Drawing Hands

Article By: RuffPoker.com

Drawing hands are very vulnerable. When you flop an open-ended straight draw or a flush draw, you have a hand that's worthless now, but could be a powerhouse. So the question is, "How do you get the most value from your hand?"

Most people will try to see the turn and river for as little as possible. It seems reasonable. After all, if poker is all about taking the good odds and folding the bad odds, doesn't it make sense to draw if the odds are good? Like I said, it sounds reasonable but there are several problems with that approach.

The first problem is obvious. Draws don't always hit. If there's a lot of money in the pot from the pre-flop action, you need to try to take the pot down now. If you wait, you could end up losing your next couple bets as well as the pot.

The second problem is that draws can be obvious when they do hit - especially flushes. Players are usually on the lookout for coordinated boards. When there are two hearts on the flop and someone cold calls, then raises heavy when a heart falls on the turn, nobody is fooled. That pattern of betting screams "I made a flush!" In other words, your implied odds are crap.
Straight draws have the same problem. Unless you made a straight with a single or double gapper, it'll be obvious when you make your straight. It's hard to get extra value when you passively draw to your straight or flush.

Betting out is a good option. At least, it's better that check-calling. But if you bet, you run the risk that someone will raise you enough to kill your odds. This is especially true if you bet into the original pre-flop raiser. If that happens, you'll have to tuck your tail between your legs and fold. Betting out is good, but there is a better move.

When you catch a flush draw or an open-ended straight draw; check and let the people behind you act. This strategy is especially effective if you're checking into the pre-flop raiser. Let them bet for you then re-raise heavy. This move accomplishes two things:

First, it tells you're opponents to watch out because you're playing a monster. Your hand may be a drawing hand, but the check-raise makes your opponents wonder if you flopped two pair or trips. Even if they call your raise, they'll be weary.

If the turn is a blank card, you can check again. Your opponent will remember your check-raise and is likely to check behind you. So your check-raise gave you a free look at two cards and it also gives you a chance to take the pot away on the river.

If you're opponent checks behind you on the turn, you can bet the river even if your card doesn't hit. When your opponent checked the turn, they let you know they aren't confident in their hand. A well placed bet may win you the pot.

This advice is aggressive poker, to be sure. But aggressive poker is winning poker. Play your draws more aggressively and watch the cash come rolling in.