Poker Lesson 30

Evaluating the flop in hold'em, part 9: Combined draws
In several previous lessons, I have examined different types of flush draws and straight draws which can occur for you when the flop lands on the table. Now it is time to pay attention to situations which will occur every now and then: When you have "combined draws", meaning several different possible ways of improving your hand, at the same time.

One such example is when you hold let's say K-Q in hearts, and the flop comes down with K of spades – 9 of hearts – 4 of hearts. Not only do you now have top pair (Kings), but you also have the draw to the second highest possible hearts flush, a draw to trips (should a third King hit), and a draw to top two pairs (should another Queen hit). This hand is likely to already be in the lead against your opponents, with this flop, and has a good chance to improve into something even more formidable on the turn and/or the river.

After the turn (the fourth card on the board) in this example, the situation may have improved even further. Let us say that the turn is the 10 of diamonds: now you also have, in addition to the draws listed above, a draw to an inside straight. Should any hearts card, any King, any Queen or any Ten fall on the river (a total of 17 possible helpful cards for you), you will have a strong hand indeed – not a completely unbeatable one, mind you, but one which is very likely to win the pot.

One of the strongest draws you can have is the draw to a straight flush, ie. combining an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw at the same time. Assuming you hold the same K-Q of hearts as before, let us now say the flop comes down J of hearts – 10 of hearts – 5 of clubs. Now you are in a fantastically great position, where any hearts card, any Ace and any Nine will give you a "made" hand – and a lot of these possible hands (including the fabled royal straight flush, of which you will see only a handful of in your entire lifetime) will be unbeatable against any opponent. In fact, this draw here has a 54% chance of hitting either a straight or a flush, and should be played very strongly.

Another and almost equally strong combined draw occurs when you hold for example A-Q of clubs, and the flop comes down K of clubs – 3 of clubs – 10 of diamonds. Now you have a draw to the highest possible flush (which you hit should any club card fall), combined with a draw to an inside straight (which you hit should any non-club Jack fall).

The more combined draws you have, the better your hand can stand up against heavy betting from the other players!