Top pair and a flush draw

One of the most overplayed hands in live no-limit is top pair and a flush draw. It's amazing that people will commit the...

Posted Mar 13, 2012


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

One of the most overplayed hands in live no-limit is top pair and a flush draw. It's amazing that people will commit their entire stack not realizing that they may have very poor equity given the action throughout the hand.

Let's look at a common example. In a $2-$5 game with effective stacks of $700, under the gun opens to $25 and three people call including the two blinds. The board comes out T 9 7 and it gets checked to the button. He has K T and bets $60. The small blind calls and the big blind check raises all-in for $700. What now? If we put ourselves in the button's spot our hand looks strong but we are actually doing very poorly versus the big blind's range. It seems like he is trying to protect a made hand and at worst we should expect him to show up with two pair -- but he likely has a flopped straight or a set. We are getting laid less than 1.5-1 from the pot and we should clearly fold given that range. Even though our equity is not bad versus two pair or the nut-flush draw we are far behind the rest of the hands that he may show up with.

I often see players snap call in this situation. They do not realize that when you flop top pair and a flush draw your hand is not as strong as it seems especially with heavy action in front of you. In fact, top pair can basically be irrelevant against your opponent’s holding except for the fact that you block some full house redraws.

It is also common to see players in this situation get it in virtually drawing dead against a made hand and a dominating draw. Change that above scenario to a three way pot where we are up against 9 9 and A Q and we have close to zero percent equity. Especially against opponents that play their draws fast we must be weary of a raise and a reraise.

Another thing that people do not quite understand is that top pair and a flush draw actually does weaker than middle or bottom pair and a flush draw versus a preflop raising range when the top pair is a high card. Say, for example, the board is K 8 2 and we hold K Q. It seems like we’ve flopped a strong hand, but if the pre flop raiser has AK we would rather hold something like 8 7 on a K 8 2 board. You must be aware of this when pushing draws especially with ace, king or queen high flops. Those extra two outs add up to about eight percent equity with two cards to come. There is an in depth discussion of these scenarios in my podcast “Deuce Plays” episode “Draws”.

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