Simple Tips for Playing Flush Draws in Poker

A flush of diamonds on a poker table.

A flush is the fourth strongest hand in poker, so it’s always exciting when your starting hand has drawing potential 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 and chasing after a draw under the wrong circumstances can be very costly. Don’t be daunted! We’ve put together some tips to help you out. Read on for useful information on the nature of flush draws, their benefits and risks and the role of poker hand representation, plus 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 is 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 is 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 nine of clubs, five 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 holding queen of spades and jack of spades. The flop comes ace of diamonds and the four and eight of spades. That looks pretty good, as you’re holding four to a flush, but the odds are likely stacked against you. 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. If you put money in the pot just to chase your draw, you will lose your money more times than not.

2. Choose the right online poker strategy

A player looks at their hand at the poker table.

The first step with playing flush draws in poker is to separate them into stronger and weaker draws. Draws that are ace high or king high, and draws where both hole cards are over-cards, fall into the category of strong draws. All other draws can be considered weak. As a general rule, it’s a good poker strategy to play aggressively with a strong draw. Especially with a nut flush draw, you will 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 and fold if the price of continuing is too high.

3. Treat paired boards with caution

When the board pairs (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 tendencies 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

A woman wearing a hat holds her cards up to her face.

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 but 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 will 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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