The game has started, and you would like to have some insight to guide your play. Common math and a little patience will do the trick. If you fail to hold a pair or better, or a four-card flush or straight, the answer is simple, fold without hesitation; your chances of drawing a better hand that the opener and those of you opponents is remote. To draw to improve a hand, you must have something to draw to. Drawing to a three-card flush or straight is throwing money away. The chances of making a flush by drawing two cards are approximately 1 in 24. The chances of completing a straight when holding ace, deuce, and three are approximately 1 in 68, Sure, you do have a chance of two pair or three of a kind, but you must bear in mind that the other players may have one of those hands or better already, plus they have the same chance to improve their hand.
You can draw to any pair above a ten, providing that the opening bet is reasonable, because your chances of improvement are approximately 1 in 3 ½. The improvement may be to any one of the following: two pairs, three of a kind, full house or four of a kind, and one of these hands may win the pot.
A player should always open the pot when they have the opportunity to do so, regardless of the value of their hand. If the player holds jacks and is to the dealers left, he should hold back a kicker and make his opening bet rather stiff. This play is made in an attempt to drive out any other hands of a higher value.
Some players have often asked if it pays to hold a kicker with one pair? The answer unfortunately is a resounding Yes and No. True, holding a kicker lessens your chances of improving your hand. The chances of improving a pair with a kicker are 1 in 3.86, whereas the chances of improving a pair without the kicker are 3.48. But if you hold onto a kicker you have added a certain deceptive value to your hand. You must decide at the time as to which option seems to be the best, and your decision must be made after analyzing both the players’ tells and the number of cards each player has drawn before your turn to draw.
Here is a tip on whether to stay in with a four-card flush which has been found sound both in theory and in actual play. Add up the amount of money in the pot and recall the chances of drawing that fifth card to complete the flush. The odds against drawing one card to make a flush are about 4 ½ to 1. Therefore you will want the pot to contain at least five times the amount it will cost you to draw a card. So if the opening bet was $1, there must be at least $5 in the pot before it is worth your risk in paying $1 to draw a card in an attempt to make the flush.
A common question is “The flush may not win so wouldn’t the pot make better odds? The answer is no. As a general rule there is not too much money in the pot before the draw. This means that a flush will win many more times for a player than it will lose.
Whether you should raise or bluff in Draw Poker is determined by the situation. A player must consider the attitudes of the players with whom he is competing, the amount of money in the pot, the number of cards that have been drawn and the relative value of your own hand. Years of poker playing may be necessary to weigh these factors properly, but it is necessary to do all of these things perfectly to win money. All you have to do is to play a better game than your opponents.