No Limit Strategy: Draws on the Flop
Finding ourselves on a flush draw when the flop appears leaves us with a decision to make at a critical juncture of a hand. Given that it is by no means an uncommon situation it pays – literally – to have a logical strategy regarding flush and straight draws.
Of course there needs to be some level of flexibility as well as an appreciation of the odds but, essentially, betting is a worthy play because it has the advantage if ticking numerous boxes. We should be looking to avoid being predictable, finding value, throwing off the opposition’s scent as to what we might have, wangling ourselves a free run at the Turn and simply pick up a pot uncontested. Not surprisingly this specific semi-bluff is one of our favourite scenarios in No Limit Hold’em.
A key component in engineering optimal prospects here is position. It’s imperative to have the advantage of position on our opponents in order to afford us maximum control of proceedings – otherwise, betting out of position runs the risk of walking into a raise from a strong – and made – hand, a problem that is more likely to arise the more players we’re up against.
Therefore, in position, we can be happy to bet our draw on the flop, regardless of how many players are still in contention. Clearly we can’t expect to win the pot against multiple opponents as someone is likely to already have a hand and be in front at this stage (ideally we would prefer to bet when it’s checked to us, but incorporating an occasional raise into our strategy is fine, too).
The interesting psychological aspect of this scenario is that players tend to associate a bet with a concrete connection to the flop which, in turn, can make the rest of the hand difficult for our opponents to read should we make the draw. If the Turn brings one of our cards we can choose how to play depending on circumstances. Checking might well induce some juicy action on the river, while simply betting makes sense – a sizeable bet could be construed as protecting ourselves against the opposition getting a lucky fourth flush card.
Note that, having ‘purposefully’ bet the flop, we can contemplate an ostensibly confident bet on the Turn even if we miss our draw. If we subsequently fill a flush on the river we can then be sitting on a well disguised winner. This type of situation is ripe for confusing opponents (always a useful tactic) and inducing action when we hit a big hand, either through slowing down when we hit on the Turn or representing a (lesser) made hand by betting earlier in the proceedings.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador