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PLAYING DRAWS IN LIMIT HOLDEM



Playing Draws in Limit Hold'em

2006 Jason Kirk

Playing draws in limit hold'em is where most players make their biggest mistakes. It's much more difficult to make a mistake when playing a made hand, as the board and your opponents' betting will often give you more than enough information to make a good laydown - if the pot isn't already large enough to justify sticking around until the river card in the first place, that is. On a draw, however, many players routinely ignore the one factor that should make all their decisions for them: pot odds. If you chase draws without pot odds, you'll find it very hard to be a consistent limit hold'em winner.

Because the bet sizes are fixed, limit hold'em rewards the players who make correct decisions most often. That means that laying down hands you shouldn't be chasing - and continuing to play draws when you have the proper odds - are two key skills to master if you want to be a consistent winner. However, you don't have to be passive with your drawing hands, simply hoping you hit. You can manipulate the pot odds you're getting by betting out, raising, or check-raising, depending on the particular situation. Such aggression will give you information in addition to manipulating your odds: it will put your opponents on the defensive if they aren't particularly strong in a given hand, and it will let you know very quickly if your opponent has a true monster hand when you get raised or re-raised.

There are some particular tactics that can aid you in achieving your goal of making proper decisions when playing your limit hold'em draws. One of the most valuable tools in your arsenal when you're drawing is the semi-bluff. If you've flopped an open-ended straight draw or a flush draw in the blinds or in early position in a multi-way pot, leading out immediately can often build a pot big enough to give you good odds for continuing on after the turn. This is especially true if your table is full of passive players and a player in late position raised before the flop - more often than not, the majority of those passive players between you and the pre-flop raiser will call if they hold any pair, leaving a lot of money in the middle. When you are playing a draw in a smaller pot - say, 3-way - you'll have to be more willing to let juicy draws go when the situation dictates doing so.

Drawing hands are obviously the most valuable when you're in position and can see all the action in front of you. However, you'll sometimes pick up a very good draw in early position. Check-raising can be a valuable tool in such situations. When you find yourself hold the nut flush draw with two overcards to the board, for instance, a check-raise can give you good odds for your draws as well as giving you a chance to win the pot by betting out on the turn. If you're out of position against a pre-flop raiser whom you know to be a bluffer, letting him take the lead again after you flop a solid draw and then check-raising when the action returns to you can often win the pot on the flop - and even when it doesn't, you've got odds to try and hit your draw.

One final note: the differences between a straight draw and a flush draw shouldn't be ignored. The flush draw gives you an extra out over an open-ended or double gutshot straight draw, but it's also usually much more obvious when you hit it unless you are a master of deceptive play. Straight draws, while more disguised, are also more vulnerable because they can be beaten by any two suited cards. It's important to take these factors into consideration when deciding how to play your draw.
 


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