Drawing to the Second Best Hand

F.qually important in determining whether a hand that needs improvement is worth a call is the question of whether the hand will win even if you do make it. Your hand might lose in a variety of w ays. It can happen because you are drawing dead — that is, the hand you are looking to make is already beaten by your opponent. For example, when that open pair bet into your four-flush and a possible straight earlier in this chapter, he might have been betting a full house, which you have no way of beating. It can also happen that you make your hand and your opponent makes an even better hand even though you weren't drawing dead. Your four-flush might, for example, be up against three-of-a-kind You may make your flush, but your opponent may very well make a full house.

In such situations you must reduce your odds of winning and sometimes throw your hand away. For instance, a four-flush against three-of-a-kind in seven-card stud is a much greater underdog than a four-flush against two pair because three-of-a-kind is more than twice as likely to improve to a full house. The ability to fold correctly when you suspect you are drawing dead or drawing with too little chance of ending up with the best hand is one attribute that distinguishes a good player from an average one. On the other hand, poor players are likely to call thoughtlessly on the come no matter what. They do not consider that they may be drawing dead, and when they're not drawing dead, they do not adjust their chances of ending up with the best hand, taking into account the possibility of an opponent's making a bigger hand than their own.

In hold 'em and other community card games, you can sometimes draw dead because the cards that will give you the hand you want will also give your opponent an even better hand. Suppose in hold 'em you are holding

your opponent is holding

and the board is

If a queen falls on the end, you make a straight, to be sure, and a straight beats three jacks. However, the queen also happens to give your opponent a full house. Similarly, if you hold and the board is

* J^C

§¥ ¥

3 « » ¥

I +

¥ ¥

¥

if?

A

A $

* !

there is no card in the deck that will make you a winner against an opponent holding the ace of hearts and another heart. A heart at the end gives you a king-high flush, but it gives your opponent an ace-high flush.

When you think your opponent might beat you even if you make your hand, you must adjust your odds of winning before comparing them to the pot odds you are getting. Let's say you are a 5-to-l underdog to make your hand, and you are getting 7-to-l from the pot. By itself your hand is worth a call. But suppose you feel there is a 30 percent chance your opponent will make a hand that beats the one you are trying to make. Should you still call-? As a 5-to-l underdog you are going to make your hand one-sixth of the time, which is 16% percent. However, of that 16% percent of the time, you will be good only 70 percent of the time. All of a sudden, instead of winning 16% percent of the time, you will win only about 11% percent of the time. You go from a 5-to-l shot to just about a 7'/2-to-l shot. What appeared to be an easy call has hecome □ fold.

In general, you don't need to calculate your chances of winning so precisely; when there is a chance of drawing dead or being outdrawn after you make your hand, you had better throw away most of your close plays because they will swing into losing plays. You have to overcome the double adversity of having the worst hand in the first place and the possibility of not winning when you make the hand you are hoping to make. To call a bet in such a situation requires very good pot odds indeed.

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