Reading Flushes and Flush Draws

By the River, it is easy to see if a flush is possible. If there are three cards of the same suit on the board, then any player would need both of his hole cards to be of the same suit to make a flush. If there are four cards of the same suit on the board, then any player would have a flush with just one card of that suit. If all five cards on the board are of the same suit, then all players have a flush, it is just a matter of how high their flush is depending on whether or not they held a card of the same suit in their hand.

If a player's starting cards are of the same suit, he has three ways of making a flush. The first way is for all three cards on the Flop to be of the same suit as the player's two hole cards. The player would have a flush right on the Flop. The second way is for two cards on the Flop to be of the same suit as the player's two hole cards, but then he needs a third card of the same suit to come on the board on either the Turn or the River. The third way is for only one card on the Flop to be of the same suit as the player's two hole cards, but then he needs both the Turn card and the River card to be of that same suit as well. The second way is the most common way.

If your cards are suited, how often will you flop a flush? How often will you flop a flush draw with two cards of the same suit on the Flop? Here is a table with the percentage of times you will see 3, 2, 1 and 0 cards of the same suit as your two suited hole cards.

Number of cards that will come on the Flop that are the same suit as your hole cards

Computation

Percentage of time it will happen

3

11/50 x 10/49 x 9/48

0.8%

2

11/50 x 10/49 x 39/48 x 3

10.9%

1

11/50 x 39/49 x 38/48 x 3

41.6%

0

39/50 x 38/49 x 37/48

46.6%

Total

100%

  • the percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding error
  • the percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding error

It is very rare to hit a flush right on the Flop, it happens less than 1% of the time. However this does not mean that if all three cards on the board are of the same suit, that less than 1% of the time someone has a flush. In fact, when all three cards on the Flop are of the same suit, any random hand would have a 3.8% (10/49 x 9/48) chance of having a flush. These numbers may seem contradictory, but they are not. In the first scenario, we start off knowing two of our cards are of the same suit, and we need all three cards on the Flop to be of the same suit. In the second scenario, we start off knowing that the Flop is all of the same suit. Then we need to calculate the chances that the two cards in any one hand are of that same suit. It is the difference in the starting point. In the first situation, we know two cards and we need three more. In the second situation, we know three cards and we only need two more.

If you flop a flush draw with two cards of the same suit as your two hole cards, how often will you make the Flush on the Turn, the River or neither?_

When will you make your flush if you have four cards to a flush on the Flop?

Computation

Percentage

Turn

9/47

19.1%

River

38/47 x 9/46

15.8%

Total

9/47 + (38/47 x 9/46)

35.0%

Never

38/47 x 37/46

65.0%

* the percentages on the Turn and

River do not add up to the Total percentage due to round

error error

The reason why there is a significantly lower percentage of hitting the flush on the River than the Turn is that there is a chance that you hit the flush on the Turn and hit a sixth card of the same suit on the River. But in that situation, you already have the flush, so getting another flush card on the River is meaningless. If the Turn card does not make your flush, then there is a 19.6% chance that you will get the flush on the River (9/46). These percentages are interesting, but you will not need them if you use DIPO (see the chapter on Pot Odds) when you are on a draw and you read hands well.

The most common way a player will make a flush occurs when he has two cards of the same suit in his hand and two cards of that suit comes on the Flop. Then the player can get his flush on either the Turn or the River by hitting a fifth card of his suit. Many players like to play suited cards for this reason. Having suited cards is useful because it adds another way of winning a hand, but it is often overrated by many players who are willing to play any suited cards, no matter the rank or the ability to make a straight with the two cards.

If a player makes a raise in late position when there are two cards to a flush on board, it could signify he is on a flush draw and is raising to try to get a free card on the Turn. If an opponent makes this play when you are in early position, you may want to think about betting on the Turn if you think your made hand is good at the moment. The free card raise is a useful strategy, as is the counter strategy of betting into the raiser if a flush card does not come. This is discussed in greater detail in the Free Cards chapter. If there are two or more players in the hand, a raise by a nut flush draw has value even on that round by itself. In the chart above, it shows there is a total of 34.9% chance that a player will catch a flush if he has four to a flush on the Flop. If there are two or more players in, then the player on the nut flush draw is getting 2:1 odds (equivalent to 33%) when he bets and raises. It is important to note the nut flush draw aspect since other players maybe on flush draws themselves. It would be a travesty to catch a flush draw only to be beaten by a higher flush.

Another way for player to make a flush is when he starts with two suited cards, flops one card of the same suit as his hole cards, and then catch a runner-runner flush. A runner-runner flush means catching a card of the same suit on both the Turn and the River. Typically catching a flush this way comes almost by accident. The player would not be correct to draw to the runner-runner flush unless he had something else going for him, such as a split pair on the Flop. It would not be until the Turn that a player who catches a flush should use it as a primary reason to stay in the hand.

If you flop a runner-runner flush draw, how often will you have a four flush on the Turn and how often will you actually make it on the River?___

Runner-runner flush draw possibilities, assuming the two hole cards are of the same suit

Computation

Percentage

Pick up a flush draw on the Turn (the Turn makes two cards of the same suit on the board along with your two hole cards are of that same suit)

10/47

21.3%

No flush draw on the Turn

37/47

78.7%

Catch the flush on the River (both the Turn and the River are of the same suit, thus giving three cards of the same suit on the board, along with your two hole cards that are of the same suit)

10/47 x 9/46

4.2%

Pick up a flush draw on the Turn but do not catch the flush

on the River (the Turn makes two cards of the same suit on the board along with your two hole cards of the same suit, but the River does not make the flush)

In the case where there are four cards of the same suit on the board, it becomes much easier for any player to have a flush. In fact, any player with the A of that suit when there are three cards of the same suit on the Flop or Turn, will likely have enough pot odds to see the hand to the River to see if he makes the nut flush. The player(s) with the K or the Q of that suit needs to be aware that they are not drawing to the nut flush.

By the River, if there are not three cards of the same suit on the board and if you think your opponent was on a flush draw, you will not need to worry about a flush. This may allow you to bluff if your opponent indeed had a flush draw while you do not have much of a hand yourself.

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