Inside Straight Draw Odds
Every time you think about strategies for a certain poker scenario, you first need to know the basic math behind it and understand poker odds.
So, what are the actual inside straight draw odds, and how likely are you to make your hand on the turn or the river?
There is no need to make things too complex here, and I will stick to the straightforward “Rule of Two and Four.” You take the number of outs you have and multiply it by two to get your odds for the turn or by four to get the odds for the river.
For the inside straight draw, you’ll always have four outs, so:
- Chances of making your straight on the turn: 4 * 2 = 8%
- Chances of making your straight by the river: 4 * 4 = 16%
While these numbers aren’t 100% precise and will depend on other backdoor options, they’re a very good approximation.
Whether you’re 8% or 9% to make your straight with one card to come doesn’t make that much difference in your actual strategy. You just need to know where you stand.
Knowing what is inside straight and what the inside straight draw odds are is essential for any further discussion. People often get way too involved with these hands despite the fact the numbers simply don’t add up.
Gutshot straight draw is, in fact, one of the weakest draws in poker, and you need to treat it as such.
Nutted vs. Non-nutted Gutshot Straight Draws
Now that I’ve explained some basic numbers, it should be pretty clear why chasing your inside straight draws is often not a very good idea. However, the situation can become even worse if the gutshot you’re trying to make is not the nuts.
For example, let’s say you’re holding 56, and the board comes 4 8 9.
You need any 7 to complete your draw, and you already know the odds of that happening aren’t exactly favorable.
To make things even worse, when you do get lucky and get one of those cards you need, you’ll only have the third nuts. Anyone with T6 or JT will have made a better straight.
Now, poker isn’t an exact science, and the unknown element is what makes the game fun to play. I’m not saying that you should never play in these scenarios. What I am saying, though, is that you need to be very careful chasing inside straight draws that don’t make the nuts.
One of the main motivations for chasing a gutshot straight is the implied odds, i.e., the amount of money you can get from your opponents when you do make your hand.
However, the scenario where you are not very likely to hit your draw, combined with a fact that when you do hit your “magic” card, it can easily make you the second-best hand is a recipe for disaster.
So treat nut gutshot straight draws, and non-nut draws differently, and be more willing to fold the latter one most of the time. The risk of making your hand and then being in a situation where you are drawing dead is not worth it.
Inside Straight Draws & Dirty Outs
Similar to the previous example, you need to be careful in the spots where one of your four outs is actually “dirty,” meaning it could easily make a better hand for one of your opponents.
It is primarily the case on two-tone boards where one of your cards could complete someone’s flush draw.
It is a similar scenario to the one I described earlier with a subtle difference that three of your outs will give you the nuts. The fourth one, however, i.e., the 7h, is a problem card that you both want and don’t want to see on the turn or the river.
Of course, not every time that 7h hits someone will make a flush. You can still go for value when you make your hand even when the flush card appears, but it reduces the profitability of your gutshot straight draws in the long run, so keep it in mind.
You can always use poker software to distinguish your opponents and see when you should be betting in these spots.
Playing Inside Straight Draws Profitably
By this point, I believe I’ve covered some of the most important points about gutshot straight draws and things you need to consider.
So, the question becomes what the most profitable way to play inside straight draws is?
Like with most things in poker, there isn’t one answer that fits all possible scenarios and situations. Thus, I will try to go through some of the most common spots and offer some food for your thought that should help you avoid many pitfalls on the way.
Playing as a Preflop Aggressor
When you’re the one with the initiative and flop an inside straight draw, you’ll have to decide whether to continue with aggression or check to see what happens on the turn. As always, being in a position helps a lot.
As a rule of thumb, you should be betting your gutshot draws in position when you are preflop aggressor to take advantage of fold equity.
Contrary to this, when you are OOP, you should be more inclined to check because you are in a much worse situation with less chance to make your opponent fold.
That being said, you should be looking to check back some of the time with your weakest inside draws, and for that, you need to be able to distinguish bad draws from the good ones and act accordingly.
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In this situation, Poker Snowie suggests checking behind some of the time. This helps to balance your play on more coordinated board textures and prevents you from bloating the pot when you do not even have all clean outs.
Depending on what peels on the turn, you may fire out a delayed continuation bet if the opponent checks again.
In this case, your gutshot draw serves more as a backup while you’re relying on the aggression to win the pot and might consider barreling the river as well, depending on what card peels.
However, if the board structure changes slightly to be more favorable for your hand, you’ll probably want to continuation bet. If there is no flush draw on the board, for example, or you have a backdoor flush draw yourself, you’ll pretty much always want to continue with the aggression.
The EV of c-betting is slightly higher than the EV of checking back, and Snowie suggests you should barrel this flop 100%.
Even without hitting your hand, you have plenty of opportunities to continue your aggression and take down the pot. Any diamond peeling on the turn will give you more than enough equity to keep betting, putting maximum pressure on your opponent.
Combined with a few bluff cards that you might want to use as well (such as Aces and maybe Queens), you should be able to win the pot very frequently as your opponent will struggle to continue with anything but the top pair.