Sports & Games

What Is a Straight Draw? Learn How to Play a Straight Draw in Poker

Written by MasterClass

Sep 9, 2019 • 3 min read

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Poker strategy when holding a draw is not as straightforward as you might think at first glance. There are many pitfalls where you can lose too many chips if you are not fully prepared. Learning how to navigate around all the different possible lines is a part of mastering your fundamentals.



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What Is a Straight Draw in Poker?

A straight draw is when you have four of the five cards needed to make a straight. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you hold two of the cards and the other two are on the board. It can also be one of your hole cards and three on the board.

The poker hand rankings are:

  1. Royal flush
  2. Straight flush
  3. Four-of-a-kind
  4. Full house
  5. Flush
  6. Straight
  7. Three-of-a-kind
  8. Two pair
  9. Pair
  10. High card

What Is an Open-Ended Straight Draw?

An open-ended straight draw is one that has four connected cards needing to hit one of four outs at one end or one of the four at the other end for a total of eight outs. For example, if the flop comes down Kh 4s 3c and you hold 6h 5h then any deuce or seven will complete a five-card straight.

What Is an Inside Straight Draw?

An inside straight draw is one that only has four outs to complete the draw. For example, on a Qh 9c 5c flop if you hold 8d 7d then any six will complete a five-card straight. This hand is less valuable than an open-ended straight draw because you will only hit your draw half as often.

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How to Play a Straight Draw

Straights are powerful hands, but, just like flushes, they are vulnerable to being outdrawn. Frequently you will draw to a straight only to discover that your opponent has completed their draw to a flush or full house. You must always bear this in mind when deciding whether or not to continue in the hand.

One advantage straights have over flushes is that they are more disguised. Particularly when the players in the hand are in a late position battle and preflop ranges are at their widest.

  • With wide preflop ranges, each player will frequently have some combinations of the hole cards that can make a straight.
  • The benefit of a disguised strong hand is that your opponent will often think it is highly unlikely that you hold it, making it more likely that he will pay you off with a second-best hand.

You must also consider how much aggression is appropriate against a particular opponent. If you do not have much fold equity, then betting and raising before you make your hand is going to lose chips because you almost always have less equity than any made hand.

  • The idea behind betting aggressively is to hope your opponent folds and forfeits their equity share in the pot—usually with the best hand. This approach is called semi-bluffing. You are bluffing because your hand is worthless at a showdown, but it still has the potential to become a monster. Betting on the flop, turn, and river represent a monster hand that your opponent will find difficult to call on many board run-outs.
  • Another situation is that you can raise your opponent’s continuation bet and look to bet again on the turn and river regardless of if you make your hand. These strategies come with a warning label though, because you must be competent enough to understand hand ranges, and your opponent’s tendencies, to know when this line is appropriate.

The most common straight draw scenarios you will experience is when you are drawing to eight outs for an open-ended straight draw.

  • With eight outs and 47 unseen cards, on the flop, the odds of making your draw are 8/47 = 0.17 * 100 = 17%. Expressed as a ratio this is 83:17, or scaled-down 4.88:1, after dividing both sides of the ratio by 17.


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Want to Become a Better Poker Player?

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