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Fixing Your Redline: Playing Draws Aggressively
Online six-max games are insanely aggressive. Your average regular raises 16% of his hands or more and continuation-bets 70% of the time.
So when you flop a hand with as much equity as a flush draw, there's no point playing the hand slow.
Let's say you call on the button with your random suited connectors and the flop comes down with a flush draw.
If you decide to flat-call your opponent's c-bet, when the turn comes a blank and you miss you'll have to fold to your opponent's second barrel - forfeiting your pre-flop and flop call.
Putting money in and folding is a major cause of a downward-sloping redline.
You have to stop putting money into the pot only to fold without a fight.
What is a downward-sloping redline?
Your redline is your "non-showdown" winnings. When you win a pot without going to showdown, your redline goes up. When you lose a pot, it goes down.
If you're losing more money than you're winning without seeing showdowns, your redline will be slope downward.
If you lose too much money without showdown, you may not be able to overcome that to be a winning player.
Why should I play my draw aggressively?
It's simple. You learn this in poker 101.
When you're the aggressor, you can win the pot two ways. You can win by having your opponent fold or you can win by hitting your hand.
More ways to win equals more profit.
To take that point further, when your opponent is raising 16% of hands pre-flop and c-betting almost all the time, rarely is your opponent going to have a hand that can stand a raise.
Often he's going to c-bet that jack-high flop with whatever crap he raised with pre-flop and be forced to pitch it when you raise.
Now he's the one throwing away money with his pre-flop raise and flop c-bet.
Six-max game online; $200 effective stacks.
Your opponent, who is a good regular (stats-wise: 20% VP$IP; 18% pre-flop raise; 3.0 aggression factor; 70% flop c-bet), raises to $8 in the cut-off.
You call with 7♥ 8♥ on the button and everyone else folds. The flop comes 6♥ 2♦ Q♥.
Your opponent c-bets $13 into $19.
Let's think about his range. Right now it's extremely wide.
A player that raises 18% from all positions raises about 24% of hands from the cut-off.
Listing all of those possible hands is a waste of time, so let's just say it's a lot.
Instead, think about what hands he could continue with against our raise: AA-QQ, AQ-KQ, 66, 22 and ace-high flush draws, which make up about 6% of his range.
Meaning he's going to be folding to your flop raise 75% of the time.
And guess what? Even if you're called, you have more than 35% equity against everything but the nut-flush draws.
Standard outcome: you raise to $60 and he folds.
Fold Equity is Key
Essentially, the bet above is a semi-bluff that relies on fold equity.
If your opponent is raising a very wide range pre-flop and continuation-betting a very high percentage of the time, he's going to fold to your raise on the flop a very high percentage of the time.
When you raise the flop with your flush draw, you want your opponent to fold.
But you know that if you're called, you can still win by hitting one of your flush outs.
What If He Calls?
If your opponent calls your flop raise, you have to look at his calling range.
Some opponents will call the flop raise somewhat light but still fold to further action.
Against these opponents, you can safely shove the turn and laugh when your opponent folds.
If your opponent calls flop raises with a much tighter range, you may be better off trying to take a free card.
Like everything in this wonderful game of ours, it's player dependant.
What If He Shoves?
If he shoves, you have to bite the bullet and call. Yes, it sucks, but it's the correct play.
In our example there's $19 in the pot when he c-bets $13. We raise to $60 and he shoves for $192 total.
That puts the pot at $271 and we have to call $132. When we have to call $132 to win $271, we're getting better than 2:1 and are getting the odds required for a nine-outer twice.
This is obviously not the best case scenario, but it's just not going to happen that often.
The high percentage play is that your opponent will fold and we will steal his pre-flop raise and c-bet.
Added Bonus: It Balances Your Range
Another added bonus to fast-playing your draws that you can't really quantify with math is that it balances your range.
If you're raising your flush draws on the flop, no longer can your opponent just fold top pair.
He's going to be left guessing whether you're raising a set or a flush draw.
So instead of just folding the flop because you never raise it without a set, he'll be forced to play the guessing game - which most players really suck at.
The end result is more action on your made hands.
There's a pretty obvious downside to playing your draws aggressively: variance.
When you raise with your draws, you'll frequently win the pot without showdown.
But occasionally your opponent is going to wake up with a hand and you're going to have to get it in as a slight dog.
Some of these you're going to lose; some of these you're going to win. It's the nature of the game.
Obviously in the long run, raising with your draws is much more profitable. Your opponent will just be folding insanely often.
Add on the extra action you'll get on your made hands, and it's a no brainer.
The only problem: that short run is sometimes going to be a bumpy ride.
Ride it out, and you'll see the rewards.
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