The Best Draw

One of the more classic lines of fatherly wisdom often used in Old West movies goes something like this: “The last thing my Pa ever said was, ‘Son, don’t let a stranger hold your wallet, and never, ever draw to an inside straight.” While there certainly is a law cautioned to be used when drawing to an inside straight, the fact of the matter is the two hands that make the most money in poker – especially in Texas Holdem poker, are the best hand, and the best draw.

The best hand is fairly obvious – if you start the round with pocket rockets and no one cracks your aces, then your best hand held up. On the other hand, filling the nut straight on the River will often pay off far better. The problem that many poker players have, however, is that they often try to draw to the second-best hand.

The problem with trying for a second draw hand is that you move beyond having to fill one requirement into having to fill two requirements: first you have to fill your hand to make your draw, and second you have to avoid the one card that your opponent may hold that would give him or her the nut hand. Now you are exponentially increasing the difficulty of making your hand and probably paying off quite a lot to do so.

When you are playing a drawing hand, you need to constantly ask yourself if you are drawing to the best hand based on the cards that appear on the board. If you start with a suited Ace King, you are certainly drawing to the best hand – unless the board pairs. Because Holdem is a community game, making your hand may also make your opponent’s hand and if they were drawn to the nut flush you are going to be paying them off in a big way. Be prepared to toss your hands if you are going after the second nuts.

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