Limit Texas Hold'em: Playing Flush Draws

Flush draws are some of the strongest draws you can have on the flop. They play easily and can result in winning you big pots. When you flop a flush draw in Limit Texas Hold'em, it's either going to be on a two-suited or three-suited flop. The way to play the flush draw will depend on this.

Since there are 13 cards of each suit you will always have nine outs to make your flush when you have flopped a flush draw. This is approximately 2-1 (35%) against improving by the river. Your hand is stronger if you have additional draws like a pair, a straight draw, overcards and so forth.

For example, if you hold K Q and the flop comes J T 2, giving you a straight flush draw and two overcards, you will have 21 cards that might win the pot for you. You will have about a 78% (54% for a straight/flush and 28% for hitting one of your overcards) chance of hitting at least a pair on the turn and river combined. Compare this to holding 8 7 on a flop with the As-K 9, when you most likely have only 9 outs (34%) that will win the pot for you.

To Draw or Not to Draw?

When you flop a flush draw on a two-suited flop, you are almost always getting correct pot odds to draw to the flush. There are, however, a few exceptions to consider:

  1. Heads-up in an unraised pot and all you have is the flush draw. This might be a good spot to semi-bluff, but don't check-call to the river.
  2. If the flop comes with a pair and there is heavy action on the flop. Someone is likely to hold trips and you might lose to a full house even if you hit your flush.
  3. You flop a small flush draw and there is heavy action on the flop. You might be drawing dead to a bigger flush draw. This is one of the reasons why the small suited connectors are preferably played in late position.

Position and Number of Players

When there are three or more players in the hand, you usually want to keep as many players in on the flop as possible. You want to ensure that you win a big pot if you hit your hand. This means checking and calling if acting first, unless you are the pre-flop raiser and have some chance of winning the pot by betting out.

An example of this might be when you hold A-Ks and the flop comes with three low cards, giving you the nut flush draw with two overcards. If you are sitting in late position and there is a bet from an early position player with several callers in between, it is correct to raise. You do this to build the pot when you are only 2-1 against making your flush. This raise might also give you a chance to take a free card if they all check to you on the turn.

Against one or two opponents you can try to win the pot with a semi-bluff. If you feel there is a chance you can win the pot by betting or raising, it is correct to do so. If you have overcards to go with the flush draw, you should bet or raise to force out hands that could make two pair or a pair with a better kicker than yours.

Three-Suited Flops

If the flop is three-suited you should generally just draw for the flush, particularly when you are drawing to the nut or second nut flush. If your hand has additional values like a pair and/or a straight draw, you might draw for a lower flush. It is usually hard to get action on these types of flops because players will play less aggressively unless they too have a very strong hand, like a set or two pair.

Raising and trying for free cards is less likely to succeed because your opponents will be more apt to protect their made hands. This type of draw also has less value because it is so obvious that someone will hold a flush when a fourth suited card hits. This means that players won't give action unless the board stays three-suited. The time to play very aggressively is when you hold AA or KK and have the flush draw to go with the hand.

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