Raising combo draws

Just because you raise with a combo draw doesn’t always mean you will get the right price to call an all-in.One of the h...

Posted Jun 08, 2015


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Just because you raise with a combo draw doesn’t always mean you will get the right price to call an all-in.

One of the hands that I frequently drive as a strong semi-bluff when I am on a draw is middle or bottom pair and a flush draw. The reason why I like these as opposed to top pair and a flush draw is often times you will have more outs with them against the preflop raiser and if you do hit trips you are way more likely to continue to get paid off on a later street. With the top card pairing and you holding trips it can kill the action or worse you could still be beat. However, just because you raise with a pair and a flush draw—or any type of draw for that matter—does not mean that you always have to call off your stack for an all-in.

In fact it can be a real disaster if you get into a situation in a multiway pot where you are up against a made hand and also a draw that dominates you. A few weeks ago I saw the following hand go down at the Commerce Casino’s $5-$10 game. The players in the hand were all about $1500 effective. The UTG had raised to $40 preflop and was called by the player in MP1, a young aggressive professional, and the button, an older super nitty player. The flop came down 8 3 4 and the UTG made a $100 continuation bet. The young player raised to $375 and surprisingly the button moved all-in for just under $1500. The UTG then took about 2-3 minutes, looked like he was deeply calculating something and finally called. Then, shockingly to me, the younger player also quickly called and the hands were revealed. The button (quite obviously) had a set of eights. The UTG had A Q and the MP1 player had 67. The board ran out blank blank and the button dragged in a huge pot. A minute later the young player was telling his buddy next to him that once he raised with a combination draw there was no way that he could fold getting over 3-1. Do you see the flaw in this reasoning, however?

First of all with 100% certainly the button had a set, and most likely top set due to how nitty he was. The UTG made it extremely obvious that he also had a flush draw and was not the type of player to raise from up front with small pocket pairs. So the younger player, even though he had a straight and flush draw, was likely to be dominated by the UTG and his only outs would have been a straight. In fact 67 has about 11% equity in the hand versus a set and a higher flush draw nowhere near the 24% that he need to call in pot odds.

I am not immune to these types of mistakes and a few weeks ago I made a similar error but in a different situation. In this hand I was on the button with 6 3 with a very good image. I had the table covered and a player opened from UTG+1 to $35 with a $1400 stack. The cutoff, who also had about $1400, called and I made a very loose call. The board came out A 3 2 giving me middle pair and a flush draw. The preflop raiser checked and the cutoff bet $85. I knew the cutoff’s style pretty well and was almost certain that he had an ace. If you have read my Cardplayer articles before you know that I like attacking field bettors after the preflop raiser checks as they are likely to only have one pair and may not want to play a giant pot. For this reason I decided to raise to $340. Much to my surprise the UTG now check raised to $950. The cutoff tanked for several minutes before folding.

When the action got back to me I was a bit confused as to what the UTG was representing. I was almost certain that the CO had had an ace due to his flop sizing and tanking so that only left one combination of AA left. If he showed me AA there was no way that I could call as I was only getting about 1.6 to 1 from the pot (treating his check raise to $950 as an all-in) and I was about a 3-1 underdog. Finally however, I convinced myself that it was unlikely that he had a set and I moved all-in (same as a call). I was shocked when the UTG turned over 45 for a flopped straight with a flush draw and lost a big pot.

If I had been doing my range analysis correctly I really should have made this fold. I do not think any player is playing AK as a check raise three-bet on the flop nor do I think someone is check raising a hand like K Q. These really were the only hands that I had the proper equity to call with given the pot odds even though I had a combination draw.

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