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Mixed Game Poker Strategy: Playing Draws In Stud

Posted at 10:09 2010-03-19

Well known poker blogger and author Amy Calistri uses the tag line "always a sucker for a draw" on her blog. For Amy, it is a clever tag line for her blog. However, for many Stud players, this is a reality. Players fall in love with a straight or a flush draw in Stud too often and usually wind up bleeding off chips. Let's take a look at play draws in Stud.

Not All Draws Are Created Equal

When evaluating whether to play a draw, you need to look beyond whether your hand is a three-card straight or three flush. First, if you were to pair up your cards, how strong of a hand will you be looking at? If you start with a hand such as 5-6-7 and then catch top pair for your hand, you are looking at a very vulnerable hand. The same is true for a three flush hand such as 8-4-2. Three hearts may look pretty, but how much value do you have beyond the three flush? Do you really think that eights or even eights-up will be strong enough to win?

Your stronger straight draws are going to be those that include face cards or an ace. The reason is obvious. If you start with K-Q-J and catch a pair of kings, especially if your door card is a king, you stand a much better chance to win with that pair. Also, I would feel much better with kings-up over eights-up any day. The same holds true with a three flush. The bigger the cards in your flush, the better shape you are in.

Do Not Fall In Love With Your Draw

You need pay attention to the other players in your hand. How well are they improving? If you start with a hand such as 6-7-8 and catch a five, are you going to stay in the hand if someone is showing K-Q-J-10 on sixth street? Many will stay with their draws regardless. If you make your eight-high straight and your opponent has four hearts on board on sixth, are you going to call down his bets?

Of course, this is going to depend on the situation. There are times where you will call down due to pot odds or because of other variables (eg. your opponent is showing four hearts, but you’ve seen five other hearts folded). But in many cases, if you are drawing or going to war with an inferior hand, you are just going to be feeding the pot.

As always, poker is situational. There are times you are going to be forced to play your baby three-card draw. Other times, it may be profitable to try and play your small three flush, such as if you are facing a short-stacked opponent that may go in with any "reasonable" hand. The purpose of this article is to get you to make smarter decisions consistently so that you are not throwing away money on weak drawing hands. Don't become "a sucker for a draw", but be the person taking the money from the sucker!

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