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Never draw to an inside straight

As I explained in my previous article, some poker rules are meant to be broken, at least once in a while. With that in mind, it’s time to discuss why – and when – you should commit the cardinal sin of pulling to an inner straight line.

The “rule” says never shoot to an inside straight, but should you always follow it? (Picture: CardsChat)

“What!?” I can hear you say. “You should never do this. “

Never say never to a belly shot

The warning against belly draw comes from the game of 5-Card Draw where players were advised not to attempt to fill a straight that could only be made with a card of a rank like 7-8-TJ or TJKA. Instead, it was argued, you’re better off completing straights that could be filled on both sides, like 9-TJQ or 4-5-6-7. Hitting the first, an inside straight with only four cards that would make your hand, was considered reckless.

But is it always true?

Consider the following inside straight draw. In a six-handed $20-40 5-card draw game with a single under-the-gun blind, bets can go: $20, fold, fold, raise to $40, fold, and you then go. imagine holding T♠, 8♥7♠, 6♥2♣. You might consider rolling the two and hitting the nine to fill your straight. That would be pulling toward an inside straight.

As such, conventional poker wisdom says “No, no”. With only four nines in play, you have almost a 12 to 1 chance of making your hand. “Don’t draw” says the rule.



The empirical rule would be correct in this case. You would only get 3-2 pot odds on a long draw. So maybe “Never draw to an inside straight” makes sense.

When to think about hunting

But is it really logical? Believe it or not, that’s not always the case, and you’d be missing the big picture if you adopted it.

When “the rule” says you shouldn’t shoot at a on the inside right, this implies that a open the straight draw is good. But in this example, and others you can invent, that’s probably not the case.

The open-ender doubles the number of cards that make up your straight from four to eight. By doing so, your hand is much more likely to hit – from around 12 to 1 to around 5 to 1. Even so, you can see that these odds are still considerably longer than the 3 to 2 odds the pot offers. . you. Even if you factor in the extra money you can win if you fill your hand (the implied odds), it’s still not worth the cost of the draw. In fact, a better rule for 5-Card Draw might just be “never draw a straight”.

That’s all well and good, but what about hold’em? Does the old saw stand there, perhaps?

It’s not!

Purge it from your list of rules that should even be considered. It does not replace the simple calculations of determining your draw odds and pot odds.

Let’s look at another example to see how true this is.

It’s all about math

In games of low-limit hold’em it is common for there to be many loose and passive players – calling stations as they are colloquially known. A typical round might have six or seven players seeing the flop.

So imagine you have 9 8 in the cut. You call the $2 big blind in this 10-hand Limit $2-$4 game. The button makes it $4 and seven of you call the raise. Eight of you see the flop of 5♣ 6♠ K♦. There is $32 in the pot. Everyone checks until the raiser bets $2. Everyone calls.

There is now $48 in the pot. The turn is the Q♥. Everyone checks again until the raiser bets $4. There are two callers and the action comes to you. You have an inside straight draw. Do you make the call and draw straight inside?

The saying is “never pull to an inside straight”, but in this case, you absolutely must pull to your belly. The prize pool is $60. Your $4 call gives you pot odds of 15 to 1 for a draw that’s only 10.5 to 1 against you. It’s a good bet. Call the bet and see the river.

It’s the same in No-Limit Hold’em.

You can create many different hand scenarios to show how sometimes it makes sense to draw to an inside straight, just as you can create several to show why it wouldn’t make sense to draw.

While it’s certainly true that you need more pot odds to justify an inside straight draw than an open straight draw, each draw should be considered on its own merits. If the price is good for a draw – any draw – you should do it. If not, you should go to bed. There are no aphorisms that provide a useful shortcut to simple calculations.

So, when it comes to deciding whether to draw or not, the best rule to follow is: “Just do the math”.

Written by

Ashley Adams

Venerable grinder, 7 stud enthusiast, host of “House of Cards Radio” and author of Winning Poker in 30 Minutes a Day (D&B Publishing, 2020).

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