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Play OESDs and flush draws aggressively

If you were to look them up the poker dictionary, straight and flush draws are by definition hands that need to be improved to have any showdown value. As they are, they are absolutely worthless and even if the odds of hitting something are in your favor, you should exercise caution. Going all in with either of these hands is a mistake even on the flop unless you are drawing for both a straight and a flush. In this case the chances of beating a premium starting hand such as pocket aces or Kings are above 50%.

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Open-ended straight draws are worth playing unlike gut-shot straight draws because the latter depend on only four cards. The odds are against you and it is also possible for you to be drawing dead if your opponent is also counting on those particular cards to make a better straight. When it comes to flush draws, the odds of making your hand with nine outs on the flop are a bit over 35% and decrease on the river, so you need to think twice before calling or initiating an all-in.

The obvious conclusion would be that players who are dealt such cards should play them cautiously and simply called from behind or check ahead. There are some benefits for doing so, but they are offset by all the risks and shortcomings. For starters, these two actions will make your hand obvious and in the unlikely event that you actually get the card you were waiting for, nobody will call another raise.

Another disadvantage is that you don’t have any fold equity and your opponent alone decides how much and how fast the pot grows. By calling and checking, players can get pot committed without even knowing and the problem is that with each street their chances to win diminish greatly. This leaves us with a conclusion that apparently is incomplete the support with the premise we started from, namely to raise with open ended straight straws and flush draws.

There are risks that need to be thoroughly understood and accepted, because someone who is slow playing a hand can come up with a raise that would make it impossible to call. It is also possible for opponents who would otherwise check themselves, as they are tight passive, to call your raise with a mediocre hand. All these disadvantages are real but the benefits outweigh them greatly, so put your fears and doubts away and do the right thing.


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