There are many versions of poker that novices will cut their teeth on but Texas Hold’em is definitely the one you need to master if you want to play online poker. In this variant of poker, a flush is one of the best poker hands — in fact, the fourth best — so it’s always exciting when your starting hand has drawing potential, even when you play poker online. But there’s more to flush draws than meets the eye. Hitting your draw doesn’t automatically give you the strongest hand. Chasing after a draw under the wrong circumstances can be very costly.
That said, don’t be daunted. Here are some top tips to help you learn how to play flush draws. Read on to find useful information on the nature of flush draws, their benefits and risks, the role of poker hand representation, as well as some basic poker strategy ideas.
What Is a Flush Draw In Poker?
Most newcomers to online poker will have heard the terms “a flush” and “a straight flush.” A flush is any five cards of the same suit, while a straight flush is five cards of the same suit in numerical order. Then there’s the ultimate monster hand, the royal flush, running from ace to king, queen, jack and 10.
So what is a flush draw in poker? It’s simply the opportunity to complete a flush with the community cards dealt on the flop, turn and river. When your hole cards are suited and one or more cards of the same suit turn up on the flop, you have a chance to draw a flush. Say you’re holding the seven and queen of diamonds and the flop comes 9 of clubs, 5 of diamonds and ace of diamonds. Now you have four suited cards. All you need to complete a flush is a diamond on the turn or on the river. Of course, you could luck out and flop three diamonds just like that.
1. Don’t Chase the Draw
A flush is one of the strongest online poker hands, so it’s only natural to want to enter the pot and see the flop with suited hole cards. The flush draw odds are fairly decent, too. You stand a 35% chance of hitting your draw on the turn and 20% on the river. The danger is getting carried away by the idea of getting a flush without working out whether or not your potential flush would be the nut flush (the strongest possible flush in the situation.)
Say, you’re handed two suited hole cards: a queen and jack of spades. You end up flopping a flush draw with the 4 and 8 of spades. Here, “flopping” means two of your flop cards match the suit of your hole cards.
This is an unlikely event as there are more combinations of unsuited hands than suited ones, but at this point your odds of drawing a flush look pretty good. In this situation, you have nine “outs,” or cards that could close your hand in the subsequent rounds, leading to a 35% probability of improvement from flop to river. If you prefer understanding these things in terms of odds, it equates to roughly 1.86:1 odds of improvement.
However, your flush will fall to a straight that is ace or king high. The more players at the table, the greater the chance that one of them will have drawn that card along with another spade.
The odds significantly change out of your favor at this point and you will miss your flush draw around two-thirds of the time, making a flush draw the underdog against a made hand at the flop stage. Flopping a flush is even less likely. With a suited hand, the chance of flopping a flush is a mere 1%.
2. Choose the Right Online Poker Strategy
The first step in playing flush draws in poker is to separate them into stronger and weaker draws. Draws that are ace-high or king-high are when both hole cards are over-cards. These fall into the category of strong draws, while all other draws can be considered weak.
Have you seen one of these hands before — jack-2 of hearts, 8-4 of spades, queen-5 of diamonds? Here’s what usually happens. Beginners flat call these hands preflop, which sets them up for some really awkward situations postflop. Then they make more mistakes. The next thing they know, their chip stack is dwindling. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill, picking up speed and size as it goes.
So why avoid these hands preflop? Even if they’re suited, they’re still weak. While suited hands have a bit of an edge over offsuit hands, that doesn’t mean any two suited cards are a good idea to play.
There’s also the risk of your hand getting dominated. For instance, if you play a hand like J2s, you’ll be vulnerable to all other Jx hands with a stronger kicker.
As a general rule, a good poker strategy is to play aggressively with a strong draw. Especially with a nut flush draw, you’ll have the strongest hand almost all the time, so raise and put your opponents under pressure. With weaker draws, a passive strategy is advised. Check and call to see the flop. Fold if the price of continuing is too high.
3. Treat Paired Boards With Caution
When the board pairs (when the community cards contain a pair,) even a nut flush loses a great deal of value. That’s because a paired board always has the potential for a full house, which is stronger than any flush, except a royal flush. Faced with a paired board, the best poker strategy is to flow slowly and carefully. Don’t be afraid to bet, but weigh the board up and consider your opponent’s general strategy in similar situations. If you don’t have any specific reads, it’s probably best to adopt a passive approach. You may lose some value, but the information you get about your opponent’s tendencies will be just as valuable in future encounters.
4. Know When to Bluff
Flush draw odds may be decent, but you’re still going to miss your draw the majority of hands. If you’re four cards to a draw on the river and you miss, don’t despair. If your poker hand representation is good enough, you can bluff opponents into believing that you have the nut flush, in which case they’ll likely fold. But don’t try to bluff every time. A draw that includes a king or an ace still has showdown value against an opponent with a weaker draw that missed. Rather go for the bluff with a weaker draw.
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