The Draw

Basic drawing

Your basic drawing strategy should be to draw straightforward, if you have a pair take one if you have to pair take two etc. Don’t keep kickers, you have the best chance to improve if you don’t. Some players will even keep a queen kicker by doing so they have risk that they will improve to a hand that is beaten if any other player improves, needless to say that is a lousy play. If you draw too straightforward you may become to predictable. Below are some situations were you might want to vary your play. It is also of high importance that you note how your opponents draw, and make adjustment to your play accordingly.

Kickers

As said before you should normally avoid them however there are some situations were they might come handy. If you are certain that your opponent holds a two pair you could keep an ace because even if you have a smaller chance of improvement you have a better chance to get aces up which is most likely to beat your opponents holdings. Sometimes you will get a good read on your opponent for example you know that John would limp in with queens and jacks from the small blind, but raise with anything else. Say that you are sitting in the big blind, John has limped in and everyone else has folded you hold QQAxx. My suggestion here is that you should raise him and take two cards, keeping the ace. Another situation is were you have AA and a tight opponent takes three cards from an early position, if you believe he has AA and you have AA and a king by all means keep it, he only has 30% chance to improve so even if you have reduced your chance to improve you will win if he doesn’t and he might be reluctant to bluff into you if he suspects trips.

Drawing to trips

Drawing two cards will give you the maximum probability of improvement, however since trips often win unimproved I recommend that you should mix up your play a bit. If the other players know that you don’t keep kickers and they are willing to call a one card draw with any two pair go ahead and keep one card. If action was heavy before the flop you should give your self the maximum opportunity to improve by taking two cards. The rest of the time you should mix it up a bit by sometimes taking one card and sometimes two to avoid becoming readable.

Bluffing

A bluff works best when it has been carefully planned. The most famous bluff in draw poker is to stand pat with a trash hand. If you want to make such a bluff to work be sure to raise as much as possible before the draw. Another situation when you sometimes want to stand pat is if you have two pairs and someone raise you initial bet. You can now cap the betting and stand pat.

Breaking starting hands

Say that you have a pair of kings and four of a suit. You bet from early position as you usually do, but you get raised by a solid player who you put on at least aces up. Since chances to get trips or better is less than 13% and you get 19% to hit your flush draw you should throw away the king and go for the flush.