Inside straight draws

Marcus Bateman RSS / Marcus Bateman / 19 February 2009 / Leave a Comment

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Am I getting the right price to call as the pot odds stand? Or do I have a chance of winning a great deal more later if facing the wrong price?

One of the most problematic hands to play in hold'em for beginner players are inside, or 'gutshot' straight draws.

This is because these hands are completely legitimate hands to raise or call with in certain situations, but in other situations are instant folds.

There are basically three situations where playing inside straight draws is OK. The first is if you are simply playing a heads up pot after raising pre flop, and you flop an inside straight draw. Here you usually want to fire at the pot, hoping to take it down right there, but at worst case getting the pot a bit bigger in case you do hit. The second situation is when you are getting pot odds better than the odds of hitting your straight. This usually only comes up in multi way limit hold'em pots, and all you can do is compare the two relevant set of odds and act accordingly.

The final, and perhaps most interesting time that it is OK to play inside straight draws is when playing very deep stacked no limit hold'em. Here the implied odds are often such that you should call with inside straights even when the pot is laying you the completely wrong odds. This is because a straight is a powerful enough hand that you are happy getting your stack in with it on most boards, and drawing to an inside straight is so well concealed (after all, is that 5h on a 2c3s6h board really going to slow down someone with a set of sixes?) that you have a very real chance of winning the rest of a player's stack if they have hit any part of the board.

Often you will hear players complaining about a player calling with a gutshot, hitting it, winning a big pot and berating them as awful players. What these players often fail to mention is that the 'fish' actually called one small bet relative to the stacks behind and went on to get nearly all the money in a long way ahead - which is clearly not bad play. When you are facing action with an inside straight draw always think about these two types of odds. Am I getting the right price to call as the pot odds stand? Or do I have a chance of winning a great deal more later if facing the wrong price? If the answer to either of these questions is yes then you should probably look to be playing your inside straight draw.

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