Playing Combo Draws in Cash Games – Top Tips from Upswing Poker
Last Updated: December 1, 2023
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Combo draws represent very strong hands in poker, but you need to know how to play them correctly to get the most value out of them.
In this article we dig under the surface and look into all the intricacies of playing combo draws in cash games.
Combo Draws Basics
In poker, the term combo draw refers to a poker hand that has the potential to make both a straight and a flush. Examples of such hands would be:
- 6♠7♠ on a 4♥5♠ flop
- 9♦10♦ on a 2♦6♣7♦ flop
The key to playing these types of hands correctly is aggression. You pretty much never want to play these draws passively, as tempting as it may seem when you might have a chance to get a free card.
Basically, if the action checks to you, you’ll want to bet. If you start by checking and someone else bets, you want to get that check-raise in and give yourself the best chance at winning the pot right then and there.
Why Play Your Combo Draws Aggressively?
There are four main reasons why you want to take the aggressive route pretty much always when holding a combo draw. These are:
- Equity realization
- Fold equity
- Implied odds
To start off with equity, these types of hands represent the best semi-bluff candidates. They can easily turn into the best hand by the turn or the river, even when you’re up against a very strong hand such as a flopped set.
In the same vein, combo draws are very good hands in terms of equity realization. They’re almost always strong enough to call with when your opponent comes over the top, so you’ll be able to reach the showdown and realize your full equity a lot of the time.
So, from that perspective, there is no downside to playing these hands aggressively.
The aggressive approach also increases your fold equity, i.e. the odds of your opponent folding a better hand and giving you the pot without you having to actually make the hand.
For example, if you check-raise with a hand like 8♥9♥ on a K♥7♥6♦ flop and get the opponent to fold a hand like [invalid notations]Ad7d[invalid notations], that’s a great outcome.
Finally, by betting and raising with your combo draws, you’ll be building a big pot for those times that you do hit, increasing your implied odds.
When you’re in position and the action checks to you, you will usually want to bet and continue building the pot. Out of position, these hands are some of the best check-raise candidates.
Missed Combo Draws on the River
Playing your combo draw aggressively only to end up completely bricking out on the river is one of the worst feelings in poker.
When this happens, though, the best thing you can do in most situations is simply give up and concede the pot.
Combo draws are bad river bluff candidates as they don’t block any of the strong hands in your opponent’s range and they block many of the potential draws. So, you’re likelier to get called when you bet on the river.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic and pick up some more useful tips for your games, definitely check out the Upswing Poker Lab.