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Everything a beginner needs to know about straight draws

Let’s begin with discussing what a straight draw is. In simple words, this is an under-straight. It is considered an incomplete poker hand. Because a straight is a set of five cards of different suits, ordered and ascending. And in a straight draw, there are only four consecutive cards, which means that we are one card short of the straight.

This combination has two variants – an open-ended straight draw and a gutshot straight draw. Note that a straight flush draw is perceived as a separate type and is not included here.

Two variants of a straight-draw combination


The first type of this combination is an open-ended straight draw. This is an ordinal set of cards differing in a suit. To get a straight, the player lacks the smallest or highest value card.

For example, 6, 7, 8, and 9 mean that either the five is missing on the left (at the beginning of the combination) or the tens on the right (at the end of the combination). This is an open-ended straight draw. Cards with values ​​of 5 and 10 are outs in this situation. In order for such a straight draw to become a full-fledged straight, the player must get one of the eight possible outs (missing card) – one of the four fives in the deck or, similarly, a ten.

The second option is a gutshot straight draw. It is also called belly buster draw because it has one card inside the combination missing for a full-fledged straight.
For example, a player has collected four cards: 5,6,7,9, and obviously, they lack the eight. This combination is considered less successful than the open-ended option since only an eight (of any suit) is an out here, and there are only four of them in the deck. That is, a gutshot straight draw has only four possible outs. There is also a gutshot with eight outs – the so-called double Gutshot – as the name implies, from such a set, two cards are missing to make a straight.

As for the straight flush draw, this is also an incomplete combination of cards, but it can become either a straight or a flush. This is a very successful set of cards, the owner of which has excellent chances of winning at the poker table.

How to play a straight draw combination

Experienced players value an open-ended straight draw more since its chances of luck are twice as high as that of a gutshot. So another piece of advice for beginner poker players can be not to count too much that a straight draw can become a full-fledged combination.

There are two options to play straight draw – aggressive and passive, so let’s take a closer look at them.

What does an aggressive straight draw style mean? It is clear that in this variation, the player needs to behave confidently and begin to raise their bet quickly on the flop – when three community cards are laid out on the table. This way, opponents will think that the player has a very good set of cards in his hand. And some may fold their cards.

The negative side of playing aggressively is the very real possibility that the other players have better, stronger combinations, which means they won’t get rid of them. And you, in case of a loss, will lose more chips and hurt your budget.

A piece of advice from the professionals – don’t rush. If you have an incomplete hand, such as an open-ended straight draw, do not make spontaneous decisions, evaluate the behaviour of your opponents and your chances of getting a straight.

A passive or more relaxed style of playing a straight draw means less risk for the player but also reduced chances of a bigger win. But at the same time, the professionals advise playing passively with draw combinations that have a good chance of winning even if you don’t get a straight later. You should only move on to more bold moves at the table when you manage to collect a good full-fledged hand.

Summing up, we will remind you once again that the combination of a straight draw is not a complete one – it is a potential straight. You can improve your hand with eight possible outs with an open-ended straight draw or a double gutshot and four outs with a regular gutshot.

During any of the drawing hands, you need to make informed decisions. Experienced poker players can afford the so-called semi-bluff with an open-ended straight draw, raising their own and responding to opponents’ bet raises. But this is a matter of practice and experience in the game. If you are new to online poker – take your time with decisions, and watch the game and your opponents. Don’t let losses ruin your mood, but don’t lose your head over victories either.

The first online poker tournament had only six players, but since then, the game has grown in popularity every year. This can be noticed when looking at the scope of modern poker tournaments. And the fortunes of the most successful poker players show how much you can improve your own level of play.

Straight Draw Tactics


There are no universal tips on how to play a straight draw because each hand is unique for a number of reasons. There are only general principles that you can follow.

  1. Absence of other drawing hands on the board. If there is no straight draw on the flop and the board is not very coordinated, the opponent is less likely to use it. Therefore, you can try to win the pot right there with a semi-bluff.
  2. Having a flush draw is a dangerous situation as you have fewer suitable outs because two of the cards you need will cover a potential flush. The draw should be played aggressively but prudently.
  3. Against an aggressive opponent. There is no need to show excessive aggression because your opponent will do it for you. You can raise only when the desired card comes out, closing the straight.
  4. Against a passive opponent. If your opponent doesn’t give up on the flop, it’s easier to take the next card for a small amount or for free. Such opponents often do not like dealing with coincidences.

The success of playing straight draws in poker depends not only on the number of outs but also on the use of hole cards since a hidden set, which involves the entire starting hand, is much more difficult for an opponent to figure out, and the presence of consecutive cards on the table makes the game easier to read. It is not difficult for opponents to guess the player’s motives.

Gemma Heathcote
Gemma Heathcote.

Gemma Heathcote – Editor @ Superlenny

Gemma is the Editor of SuperLenny.com, where her main responsibility outside of editing and writing content is overseeing everything published online. She’s also ensures the day to day operations of SuperLenny are kept running smoothly, including keeping Josh and Matt in check!