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Playing Draws, Part 6

14/03/2019 by Steve Blay
Hand Analysis

This is the sixth and final article in my series on playing draws. We’ve been talking specifically about flush draws and open-ended straight draws.

Finally, I want to briefly talk about backdoor draws and how even they can be critical in your decision making process.

Suppose you’re the pre-flop raiser with AK. You raise from middle position, and the big blind calls, and checks the flop to you.

The flop is all medium and small cards (you miss), but there are two clubs on the board, giving you a backdoor nut flush draw. Should you c-bet this flop? What do you usually do, when you have Ace-King, and you miss the flop?

In the old days (10-15 years ago), you could get away with c-betting virtually 100% of flops here. Nowadays, players defending against c-bets have gotten wise to that tactic, and they defend more often. Against a typical opponent, the optimal strategy is probably to c-bet “some of the time”, and we need to figure out a way to decide which combos of Ace-King we’ll c-bet with, and which we won’t.

This backdoor draw is not that important in and of itself (as far as making the flush by the river) – I usually tell my students to count a backdoor draw as one out, that’s about it. That’s not really a big deal.

BUT, a backdoor nut-flush draw is a lot more important for its bluffing potential. I would definitely c-bet this flop, because:

  1. I have 6 outs to make top pair on the turn (of course, all combos of Ace-King do). But additionally:
  2. I know that there are ten clubs in the deck that can come on the turn, which are going to allow me to continue to play aggressively.

The ten clubs that could come on the turn help me out in two ways:

  1. Because I’ll have the nut flush draw, AND (even more importantly):
  2. I block my opponent from having the nut flush, so I’m going to put him in a world of hurt when I barrel off on the turn and river in certain situations.

Of course, I could be wrong, he could still have the flush on the turn, but poker is all about probabilities, and I block roughly half of his flush combos by holding the A. And, he also can’t have the nut flush draw, so I block some pair + nut flush draw combo hands in his range, depending on the turn card.

The bottom line is, these turn and river bluffs should be profitable in the long run, and the key was noticing that potential on the flop, whereas maybe if we had had AK (no backdoor nut flush draw), we would chose to check the flop through.

I hope you enjoyed this six-part series, and it helps you play your draws more effectively!