It is pretty rare that you find yourself drawing virtually dead when playing no-limit hold’em. Even if you get it in preflop with rags against aces usually you are going to have at least ten percent equity. Much like when people overvalue top pair and a flush draw, like I discussed in a previous article, a lot of inexperienced players do not recognize situations where they are likely to be up against a made hand and a dominating draw. If you find yourself in this situation you basically have a 0% chance to win the hand. These spots can sometimes be tricky to recognize as we may be getting some great pot odds in multiway pots.
Let’s take a look at an example. Say an early position player with an $800 stack raises to $20 in a $2-$5 no-limit game. A mid position player calls with a $700 stack and we overcall covering both players with 8♦ 9♦. The flop comes out big for us—Q♦ 9♠ 3♦. The preflop raiser checks and the mid position player bets out $50. We decide to raise to $175 thinking that we can get the mid-position player off of a queen. The preflop raiser now check-raises to $500. The original better thinks for a while and calls. What kind of hands do we think that our two opponents have? Normally, the preflop raiser would bet out with AA or KK on this board not go for a check-raise. And, especially after this crazy action in front of him, check-raising with those types of hands would be a big overplay. In reality, he most likely has a monster like top set when he check-raises both a bet and a raise. His sizing suggests extreme strength and even though he did not push all-in we can treat his play as all-in as he is never going to fold. The mid-position player’s flat call after tanking would suggest some sort of big draw. He could have K♦ J♦, K♦ T♦, J♦ T♦ or A♦ X♦. His flat and not reraise all-in skews his range towards one of these hands as he would probably choose to protect and shove if he had a hand like 33 or Q9. Even though we are getting incredible pot odds (over 2-1 with two cards two come) with our pair and flush draw we are most likely drawing dead. In fact the only way we could win here is if we made running quads or some sort of running straight flush.
This is definitely a rare situation in hold’em but is something that you should be aware of. I have seen big pots won and lost when a third player in the hand is crushed by a bigger draw and is up against a made hand. You have to recognize these spots when they come up and do everything to avoid them.