Short-Handed No-Limit Hold'em Part 3: Drawing

Drawing hands are my second-greatest love next to sets when it comes to poker hands. The feeling of hitting a draw can be exhilarating, but most people either pay too much for them or make it obvious when they hit. There are ways to avoid falling into either trap.

Here are my guidelines for when to call big bets on draws:

  1. Your opponent has a big stack. Ex: His stack size is $600 and he bets $30-$40 on the flop.
  2. You know your opponent is aggressive and is prone to going all-in. For example, you've observed he's a maniac, going all-in quite frequently.

I'm not advocating that you call huge bets to hit a draw. Call small to medium-sized bets, and if your opponent is sitting with a lot of money, call bigger bets. If your opponent is small-stacked, it's not worth hitting the draw because you won't get a good enough pay-off from it. This strategy uses implied odds, not pot odds.

Use Implied Odds

In short-handed No-Limit (SHNL) cash games, throw your odds calculator away; it's useless. Instead, always use implied odds. This means predicting whether or not you'll get his all-in if you hit. That's why I like to draw against maniacs who get themselves pot-committed and are prone to going all-in.

People often say I'm a fish because I get all-in calls frequently and bust people, yet I seem to make money doing it. Let me simplify the method to my madness. If you try to play only the nuts in SHNL cash games, you'll never get paid. Not only that, aces frequently get cracked by good players who call pre-flop raises with suited cards and pairs, or fish who draw out on you.

Frankly, most people playing SHNL cash games are using a strategy that's geared for Limit play. Players who come from either Limit games or sit-and-go tournaments only raise the best hands pre-flop and wonder why they never get any action. You can learn to manipulate these easy-to-read players and watch them crumble. They'll frequently get their aces cracked because top pairs go down in value when all of your chips are at risk.

Drawing in SHNL cash games pays huge dividends. If you learn to draw for the right price, you'll become a SHNL cash game pro too.

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