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Poker Tips from Pros: Don't Be a Duckling on Flopped Flush Draws

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When it comes to poker I’m like a little duckling who imprints ideas based on what first interests me.

When I first flopped a flush draw this little lamb must have turned into a lion. I lifted my head, roared and got my money in quicker than you could say schism.

Full Tilt Poker has recently made big changes to its software to attract more recreational players. That’s the reflection I see when I look in the mirror, so I dumped a bit of cash into my old account and started to play some $0.25/$0.50 No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) cash games.

It wasn’t long before I flopped a flush draw and the old compulsion returned. As soon as I saw diamonds turn up I couldn’t wait to get my money in the middle.

I won the hand, but that’s not the point. I needed to find out a little more about this flush-draw business so I asked pro Timothy Reilly to offer up some advice.

Full Tilt Poker Game NL Hold'em (6-Max) - $0.25/$0.50

  • Seat 1: Player 2 ($53.60)
  • Seat 2: Player 3 ($37.10)
  • Seat 3: Villain ($59.80)
  • Seat 4: Player 1 ($40.50)
  • Seat 5: Hero ($54.30)
  • Seat 6: Player 4 ($70.05)

Player 2 posts the small blind of $0.25. Player 3 posts the big blind of $0.50. The button is in seat #6

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to Hero [Jd Ad]

Villain raises to $1.50

Player 1 calls $1.50

Hero calls $1.50

Player 4 folds

Player 2 folds

Player 3 calls $1

*** FLOP *** [3c 4d Td] (Total Pot: $6.25, 4 Players)

Player 3 checks

Villain bets $4.50

Player 1 calls $4.50

Hero raises to $14

Player 3 folds

Villain raises to $58.30, and is all in

Player 1 folds

Hero calls $38.80, and is all in

Villain shows [Qd Kd]

Hero shows [Jd Ad]

*** TURN *** [3c 4d Td] [5d] (Total Pot: $116.35, 2 Players, 1 All-In)

*** RIVER *** [3c 4d Td 5d] [Qs] (Total Pot: $116.35, 2 Players, 1 All-In)

Hero wins the pot ($113.35) with a flush, Ace high

The View from Timothy Reilly

"When playing a flush draw you need to determine your ultimate goal. Sometimes it’s to semi-bluff players off slightly better hands that can’t get to showdown, or to induce worse hands to semi-bluff into you.

Tim Reilly (Photo: GPI)

“The hand you chose is a good hand to flat in position and keep in worse draws. I don’t expect anyone to fold KT+ and there are only a few combos of flush draws that will get it in on this flop.

“If we had a hand like A 2 or A 3 I would raise, and not because of the added equity of having combo draws (although it’s obviously nice) but because removing the J from our hand gives them a lot more flush draws in their range that they may be willing to get in.  

“Our villain is not going to have much air betting here into four people and the best we can hope for is K 9 or K Q. When we raise we represent 33, 44 and maybe TT (although TT may raise pre) and a bunch of draws.

"That being said, you won’t be getting much credit on this flop. There are many turn cards that would allow us to continue and even semi-bluff all in on the turn.

Good Chance Our Ace is Live

“A queen, deuce or king are all cards we can apply maximum pressure on the turn to try to fold out some of those hands that we don’t get to fold on the flop. Also, there is a good chance our ace is live.

"Just to clarify, raising isn’t bad on this flop because we are always going to have at least 30% equity and we will get some bad players to bet too widely and be forced to fold AQ, 99, JT etc.

“I just think that there are better ways to play it where you find the villain will put money in dominated rather than in a 40/60 flip situation. Raising is good too if you have a read that villain likes to overplay flush draws.

"If we are shallower, like in an MTT, I would make a small raise then call off. We're going to run into a lot of made hands but with our pot-to-stack ratio being smaller we don’t have as much room to maneuver and I would just get it in with the equity we have.”

What's your ultimate goal?

My View

Reilly’s first point is for me to determine what my ultimate goal is: am I intending to semi-bluff players off better hands, or to induce a semi-bluff to make a move?

This is where my first mistake is made. I am not thinking like this as I move to the flop action. I have a very one-dimensional mindset that looks as follows:

'I have the nut-flush draw with two overcards. This is a hand that I am happy to play for stacks. Raise and get it in.'

This is the duckling principle I alluded to earlier. It’s an old imprint from when I first started to play poker that has never evolved.

Had I thought about the hand in more depth it becomes obvious that if I get it in, then most of the time I'm going to be a dog facing a made hand. This is why Reilly’s suggestion of a call on the flop is a much better move.

Reilly’s viewpoint that by removing the J from our starting hand it now gives the villain more combinations of hands he's likely to get it in with is one that I would never have thought about.

Timothy Reilly has taught me a very important lesson. It’s time to stop waddling around like an ugly duckling.

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