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Drawing hand highlights use of pot odds

Here’s a hand we will analyze during the Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Sr. Center. You are on the button, in a limit game, and you are dealt king-10 suited (clubs).

How would you play it? I’ll offer you my perspective; you’re invited to comment.

If you have read Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the KEY Decision, you know that your cards score 24 points so this is certainly a hand worthy of your investment to see the flop.

Three opponents call before you – no raises. Perfect! After all, as beautiful as it appears, you still have only a drawing hand – not even a premium drawing hand – that usually must improve to win. In this situation, a multi-way pot with no raises pre-flop is ideal.

You don’t know what your opponents hold. Since there was no raise pre-flop, you assume no one has a big pocket pair – A-A down to Q-Q, nor a premium drawing hand – J-J, 10-10, 9-9, 8-8, A-K, A-Q, or K-Q.

For the sake of discussion, let’s get a really super flop: Qc, 8c, Jd

With draws to both the second nut flush (King-high) and an open-ended straight, you total your outs: 9 clubs for the flush, and 8 cards less 2 clubs for the straight –15 outs total. Using the 4-2 Rule, you have about 15 x 4 = 60 percent chance of making your hand on the turn or the river. Better than even money!

You don’t need to estimate the pot odds; with so many players seeing the flop, the pot size will be attractive. There is a bet and two callers; now you must declare.

You could just call and see what the turn brings; but the money odds are so much in your favor that a value bet/raise is wise. At least the three opponents who have already made their bets, likely will call your raise. Probability tells us that every dollar you add to the pot at this point, can earn three dollars; a nice profit! After all, your objective is to win lots of chips – not just win hands.

OK, so you raised and four of you saw the turn. Either you make your hand on the turn or you miss. Your opponents probably will check to you since you showed strength when you raised on the flop. If you connected with the likely winning hand, then make the big bet. Make your opponents pay to draw. Why give them a free card?

With so many high cards and clubs on the board, chances are your opponents have reasonably attractive hands. And, if the river doesn’t pair the board, bet again on the river – and (hopefully) scoop in a nice pot!

What if the turn doesn’t help you?

With 15 outs, you still have over 15 x 2 = 30% chance of making your hand on the river. The pot odds are very favorable. Most likely your two remaining opponents will check to you again. Remember, you have been the aggressor so they respect, perhaps even fear you.

Having watched you play for a while, they know you are a tight-aggressive player, not especially tricky. (Little do they really know.) Your bet here is a semi-bluff; but you have lots of outs to connect on the river.

Whether or not you make your hand on the river, a bet is the wise decision. And, if you’re bluffing, just remember to use the Esther Bluff.

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at: [email protected]

You can try out your strategy by playing our free live online poker.

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About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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