Beginner Poker Strategy: How to Play Drawing Hands

Poker is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular games for various reasons. Poker is social; people come together to play, communicate with each other, and have fun. Furthermore, it offers players access to different levels of stakes, meaning that everyone from recreational players to seasoned pros can join in on the excitement. Additionally, poker rewards players who work hard at honing their skills; success at the table requires dedication and practice. Finally, its complexity, since there are so many possible scenarios, makes the game fascinating and captivating โ€“ allowing people of all backgrounds and abilities to use their skill set within a single experience. All these factors combined make it easy to understand why this classic game has stood the test of time.

Poker is one of the few games offering near-limitless strategic depth. With hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions made in a single session, players must be equipped to handle a variety of complete unknowns. It isn’t just about how well you can read opponents; it’s about how ready you are for whatever situation comes up next. A strong poker player is forever adjusting and evolving their strategy based on their readings of the game and the many available moves that could come next. There are so many factors players must consider, from the board state to their hole cards to opponent playstyles and habits. This poker guide will cover one aspect of poker strategy: Playing drawing hands. We will explain what they are when they’re good and how to play them successfully.

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What is a drawing hand?

Drawing hands in poker are hands that offer hope of making a strong hand, even though they are not currently strong. They’re most commonly used in the context of a hand that has the potential to become a winning five-card combination like a straight or flush. These hands are often tricky for beginners, as many overplay them in the blinds hopes of hitting their draw or underplay them from fear of the hand having no guaranteed value. With good gameplay (and a hint of luck), drawing hands can beat out the absolute best pre-flop starting hands like pocket aces, showing how poker is never a game of guarantees. So, for any player, playing draws is one of the most common parts of poker, making it essential to master.

Terminology

Various slang terms exist for drawing hands. Drawing hands are referred to as “draws” and are often named by the kind of hand they will form when completed. There are straight and flush draws, but there are also more specific names, like backdoor draws. These are draws that take two cards to complete and, thus, are far less likely to form a good hand. There are also classifications of straight draws: gutshots and open-ended straight draws. Gutshots require a specific middle card to complete the straight, making them less likely to get completed compared to open-ended straight draws, which could have a low or high card complete the potential straight.

Finally, another draw-related term you must know is “outs.” Outs are the cards left in the deck that can complete your draw. For example, with a gunshot straight draw of 4-5-7-8, you need a six of any suit, giving you four outs. On the other hand, a flush draw would need any of the thirteen cards of a particular suit, except you already have four, so you have nine outs in the deck. The number of outs is directly proportional to your draw’s chance of hitting, so you must always remember them, depending on your draw type.

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Tip 1: Utilize pot odds

Pot odds are invaluable for every poker player, allowing them to calculate the expected value in a given situation. Put simply, they allow you to compare the amount of money you risk by calling a bet to the amount you stand to win, given the odds of hitting your draw. Using them allows you to calculate the expected value of the situation, which is the projected long-term value if the decision is constantly repeated. While pot odds don’t affect the short-term outcome, going for a good expected value is core to poker since it ensures your strategy is solid and will win over time.

Tip 2: Semi-bluff more often

Semi-bluffing is an important skill to master when playing poker. It involves bluffing with a drawing hand, allowing you to stay in the game if your bluff is called. It’s much more effective than a regular bluff because of the chance of hitting your draw and can catch your opponents off guard if they expect you to play draws passively. While they should be used sparingly when opponents catch on, many beginners underutilize them, so you must remember they are always an option with a drawing hand.

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to let a draw go

Drawing hands can have significant upsides when executed well, but knowing when to release your hand in the face of a large bet is essential. It can be challenging for poker players with a solid drawing hand to fold, as they are often excited about the potential of the board helping them. However, failing to fold when you should cost you a lot of chips in the long run. While it may be hard at first, disciplining yourself to fold drawing hands when holding marginal cards is a vital part of playing poker effectively.

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Step your poker game up!

While playing drawing poker hands may not be the easiest thing to do, following these beginner poker tips should help you improve your game. Remember that you need to have a good chance of making your hand stay in the pot and always be aware of your opponents’ actions. With practice, you’ll be able to better read the board and make decisions accordingly. Good luck!