Draw (poker)

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A poker player is drawing if he has a hand that is incomplete and needs further cards to become valuable. The hand itself is called a draw or drawing hand. For example, in seven-card stud, if four of a player's first five cards are all spades, but the hand is otherwise weak, he is drawing to a flush. In contrast, a made hand already has value and does not necessarily need to draw to win. A made starting hand with no help can lose to an inferior starting hand with a favorable draw. If an opponent has a made hand that will beat the player's draw, then the player is drawing dead; even if he makes his desired hand, he will lose. Not only draws benefit from additional cards; many made hands can be improved by catching an out — and may have to in order to win.

Contents

Outs

An unseen card that would improve a drawing hand to a likely winner is an out. Playing a drawing hand has a positive expectation if the probability of catching an out is greater than the pot odds offered by the pot.

The probability P1 of catching an out with one card to come is:

The probability P2 of catching at least one out with two cards to come is:

[1]

A dead out is a card that would normally be considered an out for a particular drawing hand, but should be excluded when calculating the probability of catching an out. Outs can be dead for two reasons:

  • A dead out may work to improve an opponent's hand to a superior hand. For example, if Ted has a spade flush draw and Alice has an outside straight draw, any spades that complete Alice's straight are dead outs because they would also give Ted a flush.
  • A dead out may have already been seen. In some game variations such as stud poker, some of the cards held by each player are seen by all players.

Types of draws

Flush draw

A flush draw, or four flush, is a hand with four cards of the same suit that may improve to a flush. For example, K♣ 9♣ 8♣ 5♣ x. A flush draw has nine outs (thirteen cards of the suit less the four already in the hand). If you have a four flush in Hold'em, the probability to flush the hand in the end is 34.97 percent if there are two more cards to come, and 19.57 percent if there is only one more card to come.

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