Pot odds and open-ended straight draws
Ok, i just went on a little 6 mile run to clear my head and i happened to be thinking about -- you guessed it -- pot odds
and open ended straights. This will be of little use to advanced players but for the intermediate player who is just beginning to play pot odds
, it may be the difference between a winning and losing play over time.
basically, on an open ended straight off the flop you have 8 outs twice, for a total of 16 and about a 34% chance to hit it by the river. that means if the pot is paying better than 2 to 1 you have the odds for a call, right? (you have to win 1 in 3 to break even) Not necessarily, and here are two possible reasons why.
If there are two suited cards on the board, and you put your opponent on a flush draw, then two of your outs will give you a straight but they will give him the winning flush, and probably cause you to go broke in the process. that means that if there are two suited cards you may only have 6 outs twice, for a total of 12 and about a 26% chance to win the hand. your opponent on the other hand has 9 outs twice, for a total of 18 and close to a 39% chance to hit it. that means while he only needs 2 to 1 odds to justify a call, you need 3 to 1 odds to make money on the play. This is a bad situation to be in if you intend to make $$ over time.
another possible reason you could go broke is if the board pairs. you need to be *especially* cautious if the board pairs connecting cards, because people are much more likely to play connectors like 9 10, or 10 J. so if the board comes 10 J J, and you have Q K, you need to be careful because your opponent may have just flopped the boat. in any case you have to bet at this, if you are first to act you should throw about 1/3 to 1/2 the pot at it. if you get raised you should seriously consider dropping the hand. you might try a small reraise to define the hand, because 90% of players online can't resist going all in after a you bet, they raise, you reraise. if you are going to stay with the hand i'd advise the raise here instead of just a call. if you just call, you haven't learned anything about his hand and you are wandering down 4th street blind.
if you are last to act and he leads into you with a bet, you need to raise him. most players will go all in with the boat after that, although a smart player will just call to get another bet on 4th street.
Now, even if he hasn't gotten the boat yet, lets say he hits his trips on the flop. lets say he's playing J 9s (a possible starting hand if he's got position), and the board is 10 J J. you still have K Q. So you have 8 outs twice, and a 34% chance to hit the straight. the problem is that your opponent also has a decent number of outs. he has 3 9s, 3 10s, and 1 J on the turn to give him a boat or 4 of a kind, for a total of 7. in addition, his 9 will give you the straight and him the boat, causing you to go broke... so it is really tied 7 to 7 on the turn. then if he doesn't pair on the turn, he actually picks up another three outs for the river card. Say the turn comes and its a 2, a harmless card. that means he now has 3 9's, 3 10's, 3 2's and 1 J that will win, and you are still stuck with 8 outs (perhaps only 7, if you put him on the J 9). What does that mean? to call on the river with your 8 outs you need better than 4 to 1 pot odds, but he only needs 3.5 to 1. plus, if the 9 lands his implied odds are enormous... you need to be very very careful when the board pairs.
the moral of the story: if you are figuring your pot odds, do not count outs that are actually outs for your opponent!! if you do, you might go broke!