Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Drawing ... Dead

The convential use of the term drawing dead speaks of when you are in a hand and there are no cards that come either on the turn or river that will help you win the hand... you are drawing dead. I am going to use the same term; but in an unconvential way.

I am continuing to struggle in ring play as I posted another 4 digit losing day and the culprit this time (as has been for the last few months) are drawing hands. Of course, what I mean by drawing hands are straight draws and flush draws... particulary after the flop. Hands like JTs or T9s are somewhat easy to fold preflop with one or two raises out there; but after the flop when you hit 4 parts to your draw is where I am having troubles. I seek help!!!! particulary if there are raises post flop..

Ok.. let's back up.. Let's talk preflop. For illustrative purposes, I am going to use all hands that are suited connectors (let's even include 1 gappers such T8s) that are equal or above 87s. My first rule of thumb is don't play them out of position. You are needing people to play to make it worth it to play your drawing hands. I pretty much go with if I can bring 3 others along with me, I am OK to play with these type hands.... especially if I'm on the button or cutoff or at least have some assemblence of position... That even includes if there are raises... as long as I have 3 or more callers, I have always gone with the belief that it is worth it to try. If I remember right, you have about an 11% chance of hitting your flush draw... so given the actual pot and implied odds, you are OK to play along. Ok, that is the easy part. Everybody and their brothers do this and understand this.

Post flop is my problem. I don't have the answers; but hopefully writing out the questions will help me with these decisions. Below is a typical hand example to try and illustrate what I am struggling with and I will assuming 15/30 hands.

Hand example: You are on the button with T9s. You have 3 callers before you putting $70 in the pot before the blinds. Easy call for me as you are getting around 5-1 on your money.... Now the BB bumps it and everybody calls... again easy call. Obviously, you are not looking for top pair.. you are looking for hands that will help you draw to a straight or flush so you want as much money in the pot as possible.

The flop comes and it either gives you a straight draw (open ended... we will assume for these examples that all straight draws are open ended... or at least double guts) or a flush draw. Here are some things that could possibly happen:
  • It gets checked around to you. What do you do? Do you open up the betting with the risk of a check raise?
  • EP bets and gets 2 callers. What do you do? Are you calling or raising?
  • EP bets out and MP raises it? Now what do you do? Fold, call or raise?

My first instincts are to bet here for the first situation... afterall, I want to build the pot and that is what I have been doing. Upon further review, my thoughts are now to go ahead and check to get the free card. Why is that? What might happen if I bet... I could get people to fold; but I'm not going to get everybody to fold most likely... result.. not good. I could get check raises which would definitely get people out of the pot plus it puts the pressure back on me to call or re-raise with my drawing hand... result not good... Agressiveness is usually good; but situational non-agressiveness might be in order hear. Not only does it give you the chance to hit your card for free; but it might put a card that could help somebody else.. but not good enough to beat straight or flush.

Situations 2 and 3 are where I struggle. Again, if there are 3 people in the pot, you should be ok to call.. but what about raising. I don't think so. What if is checked and the buy before you bets? What then? Let's say preflop that it was not raised and had 4 players putting 4SB or 2BB out there... The person in front of you bets making it 2.5BB... you're not really getting the 3-1 odds that you seek... but you may with other callers... but those other callers might check raise.

Situation 3... 4 people see flop... flop is bet and raised in front of you... 4SBs after flop and 3 more (bet and raise) after flop putting 7SB or 3.5BB. You are now getting the odds; but is it prudent to make a call of two bets here? Should you even re-raise? I just don't know.

So at the end of the day or hand.. let's say that there was no raising just calling (I know.. probably unrealistic) all the way to showdown. You would have put 3 BB into the pot. If you lose, you lose the 3BB. If you win, you get 3x4 or 12 BB or 9BB net. If my math is right that means that you win 9BB 33% of the time ($8,910) and lose 3BB 67% of the time (-$6,030) for a net of $2,880 over a 100 hand sample... but if you take away one player making it 3 total see it to showdown, then it seeminly becomes -EV... 6BB 33% of the time ($5,940) and -3BB 67% of the time (-$6,030) for a net of -$90 so it seems to be a very fine line between +EV and -EV when playing your draws.

So what gives? What is the +EV way to play draws... especially if there are less than 4 total players?

Next question... What if you don't make your draw on the turn... How do you play that turn card? Obviously, the price of poker has gone up as it will now cost you 1BB to play (or more if raised). I won't rehash the scenarios as they basically the same as above except your odds are a lot longer to hit your card.

Now all of the above was played with position. How do things change when you are out of postion such as being in the blinds? The decision on being tentative and aggressive are paramount to the final outcome. What about when you have the straight and flush draw together. Maybe that is the time to get aggressive and play conservatively when it is just a straight draw or a flush draw.

As you can probably tell, I have been on the butt end of drawing hands. I have mixed playing aggressively and passively. Looking back over yesterday, I hit one draw in about 10 occasions.... which hurts... Add in some bad beats and 2nd best and of course bad play, it adds up quickly. I'm looking for any help here... Any sources that might help in figuring this all out would be appreciated.

Due to this downswing and the fact that my PC was fried by lightning, I will probably be out of commission for a while. I was playing on my laptop; but for now, I don't even want to do that as I want my Poker Tracker stats to help me out out through this rough stretch.


fairnbalncd said...

Your thoughts are similar to mine right before I went off the path.

"Analysis Paralysis". Count your pot and count your outs. T9s multiway with a flush/straight draw is a good hand W. I know you know that and I haven't even been around here too long.

1) 3 callers and BB raises preflop. Bet if checked to on the flop. BB can C/R making the rest of the field coldcall 2 bets. I want a CR at worst to possibly fold out an Axs/Kxs in case a 4 flush falls.

2) Call. I only build a pot with a flush draw with A or K unless I see something good on the board (Q,J). A raise here won't fold anybody since they all have odds to call for longshot guts, etc. * Depending on the board texture a raise may get you a free card too.

3) Call the raise. There should be 13SB's in the pot and you only need to call 2 SB's. Clearly you're getting 6.5:1 pot and will make the flush 2:1 with 2 cards to come.

I'm sensing a few days off might be good. Sounds like Lady Tilt is beginning to affect your good playing decisons and and cause you to second-guess why you raise at times with a draw. But then again I know you already know why you raise a draw in LP. Keep the faith...

Ignatious said...

damn, didnt know you were in my hometown of st louis.

someday hopefully my blog will be good enough to get a link on this blog.

TripJax said...

I can't get enough of your posts. Unfortunately, I don't have the answers...I seek the knowledge as well...I've "grown-up" as a MTT and SNG player and now I'm trying to hit the cash games like you to take advantage of fishy play, bonuses, and PSO promos, but damn I still have some things to learn...

cc said...


I want to submit an alternative from my experience, that you may be playing too many suited connectors. I don't believe in the Negreanu-I-would-play-that-T7s-all-day-give-me-those-cards school of thought anymore. I think you get set up for the chase which takes you down a -EV slippery slope (or at least it has me). I went on a major effort where I played suited connectors much more to very bad results. I won't go into the math (more because it hurts my head to do it, but someone else may want to), but the other thing that tends to screw me up when I'm on a bad run of chasing is getting boated on the river when the board pairs or having my flush flushed by the fourth club on the river. These have to be rare, but they then cost me two more bets from the raise that i pay off. Couple that to the 10% of the time I catch my chase (and the donkified 5% of the time the other chaser takes down my overpair when he's chasing by getting runner-runner trips when he was chasing his own flush).

OK, that turned into a bit of a rant, so let's bring it back. My thought is more getting involved in too many marginal hands may be a bigger problem.

Mourn said...

I will hold off on commenting on #3 because that's a tough situation mostly because I've trained myself not to cold-call which means I think you've got to put the third bet in or fold. I think good arguments can be made for either, and for folding especially if you're drawing to the non-nut flush. Still, two flush draws are pretty uncommon.

That said, I'm a firm believer in the notion that the bets that go in on the flop benefit the best draw and not the best hand. If you were out of position, that's one thing, but on the button I believe you absolutely have to bet in #1 if it is checked to you and raise in #2 with a bet and two calls behind you. With a big draw you have to juice this pot in position because there are way too many benefits to doing so and little downside. If you miss on the turn you very well might get a free card. If a couple of people fold to your raise and leave the pot heads up, you might be against another draw who will check/fold to a bet after the turn. And last, of course, is that if you hit you want a gigantic pot that people can't fold out of on the river.

The profit you'll see from the bet/raise here is monsterous compared to the losses in these situations.

Again, out of position or against one or two players this isn't quite so clear, but the situation you've outlined indicates unfettered aggression on the flop in my opinion.

surflexus said...

WW, I offer my humble opinion. My first consideration would be a question to myself. "What type of image do I have at the table?" If I stay and hit this hand, I show everyone at the table I'm chasing some draws. Even if the odds warrant the call, this should get you some calls later on and keep some people in some hands later when you have the nutz. This is the +EV I am seeking in this situation. Surf

TraumaPoker said...

I will try to keep it short and sweet. Stop over valuing suited connectors preflop. Read on for Phil Gorden's take on the subject, a very good read. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/poker/columns/story?columnist=gordon_phil&id=2217751

zowie said...

I agree with the others who mentioned playing too many suited connectors could be a problem. It's easy to put too much trust in them.

In your scenarios, I don't see you're playing anything badly. But consider the possibility that you are forgetting all the times you limp in, get raised, call and then nothing hits on the flop. Or consider the possibility that you played a T9 suited and hit a big pot, only to have T9 unsuited dealt later and think to yourself, "Hey, this could work...."

I am not certain what the Magic Formula is for how often to play suited connectors, but you coudl be contributing more to the pots of others by playing them too often.

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