Playing Drawing Hands Aggressively
In my previous article on playing drawing hands, I discussed how to work out whether or not to call a bet or raise depending on the type of drawing hand we had along with the size of the bet or raise in relation to the size of the pot.
The general idea throughout the article was to check and call to try and make our flush, straight or any other drawing hand as cheaply as possible. This alone is a profitable way to play poker if we use it correctly, however, there are alternate methods of playing drawing hands that could potentially be more profitable...
Try using aggression when you are on a drawing hand.
We can play drawing hands aggressively, by betting out or even raising instead of checking and calling. This may seem to contradict the strategy of trying to make our hands as cheaply as possible, but it does have some very big advantages, which can lead to us making more money from or drawing hands.
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This aggressive poker style approach is best suited to the advanced players, who are able to read their opponents and situations well, as putting money into a pot without a made hand can become very costly if you are unsure of what you are doing. However, if you feel that you would like to experiment with the aggressive approach, stick to the drawing hands that will give you the nuts on completion, such as an Ace-high flush or top straight draw.
Advantages of aggression on drawing hands.
As with many poker situations there are two ways to win a hand… you can win by having the best hand, or by making your opponent fold. The aggressive style of play lends itself well to poker as it leaves the doorway open to win pots when you do not have the best hand.
Betting with a draw works well as a semi bluff, because we may well take the pot down straight away without even needing to complete our hand. However, if we get a call from our opponents then we still have the opportunity to catch the right cards to make our draw and win the pot.
To further this point, the advantage of betting out instead of checking and calling with a draw is that it disguises our hand. By making bets or raises, our opponent is more likely to believe that we already have a made hand, and will find it harder to put us on a draw than if we had checked and called a bet from them.
Opponents are less likely to place you on a drawing hand if you are playing aggressively, which can work to your advantage later on in the hand.
Because our opponents will be less concerned that we have a draw, when the next card comes such as the 3rd card of the same suit, our opponents will be less scared and continue to bet/call because they won’t be giving us credit for the flush.
Another advantage of betting with a draw is that it builds the pot, and can force opponents into giving us the correct pot odds to call raises if they try and take control of the hand. As the size of the pot increases, we are more likely to be given the correct odds to call if our opponent decides to bet and raise with a strong but vulnerable holding.
Example of using aggression on a flush draw.
Lets say we are in a hand with A 5 against one opponent, who is holding K J.
The flop comes K Q 8 giving us the nut flush draw and our opponent top pair with Jack kicker. Now we are first to act, and we decide to bet $20 into the $40 pot.
Our opponent with top pair decides to raise, but because they are a little inexperienced yet want to protect their hand they minimum raise it to $40. There is now $100 in the pot and we have to call a further $20 to win $100, giving us pot odds of 5:1. The odds of completing our flush by the next card are 4:1, so we are given the right odds to call to try and make our hand.
- 5:1 pot odds.
- 4:1 odds of completing our flush.
This is an ideal situation that has arisen from a simple aggressive bet on the flop. Even though the semi-bluff did not work, we are still priced in to continue with the hand. If we did not make the bet on the flop and checked, our opponent may have come out betting around $20 or more into the pot himself, which would have given us the wrong pot odds (3:1) to try and make our hand, forcing us to fold.
Although this looks like a perfect situation, it does appear quite often in numerous circumstances where you can influence the amount your opponent will bet to keep the pot odds in your favour.
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Even if in the above example we went on to check the turn if we didn’t make our flush, our opponent may well still be scared about the strength of our hand and bet a small amount into the pot, which would again give us the correct odds to call. Because the pot is much larger, our opponent will be making a much bigger mistake by giving us the correct odds, and thus we will be profiting more from the hand in the long run from their bad play.
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