MCU poker tip: Hold ’em, open-end straight draws

One of the key decisions in hold ’em is whether to call a bet on the flop when you have an open-end straight draw. Often you should. But when it’s close, you need to consider other things.

Considerations

Here are three things to consider:

  1. If there are two suited cards on the flop, you’re somewhat more likely to be beat by a flush, even if you make your straight. This can often turn a hand that would otherwise be slightly profitable (with three different suits flopping) into one that’s slightly unprofitable.
  2. If there is a pair on the flop, you’re somewhat more likely to be beat by a full house or four of a kind, even if you make your straight. This, too, can often turn a hand that would otherwise be slightly profitable into one that is slightly unprofitable.
  3. Is your extra card high in rank? When a single card provides the open-end straight possibility (such as a flop of 9-7-6 when you hold K-8), the rank of that extra card is important You want an additional chance of making a pair big enough to win. Ace is best, of course. You won’t often play hands that give you the opportunity to flop a small straight attempt with an unrelated extra card, but when you do, the rank of the extra card should often be the deciding factor.
So…

When whether to call with an open-end straight attempt is a close decision, you can use the three factors above to break the tie. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

4 thoughts on “MCU poker tip: Hold ’em, open-end straight draws”

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  1. It was a close call but I was playing last night heads up
    With my stack $40,000 to his
    $9,900, I had A,Q off suit the flop came 9,10,J w/ 2 Diamonds ♦️
    He made min bet $600 & I called,
    Turn card was A of clubs, I had open end straight draw and a pair of Aces,he pushed bet up to $2,000 & I called, river brought K of Diamond ♦️ giving me my straight to the Ace but 3 Diamonds ♦️ on the board, he went all in $6,400, I made the call and beat his 2 pair Aces & 10’s but was definitely worried about the flush. How would you rate this play, was I too passive?
    It worked because of my 8 outs and stack size, your thoughts would be appreciated, thanks

    1. Hi, David — Interesting situation. Thanks for sharing it.

      In order to answer, I need to know more. What were the blind sizes? (I’m guessing, based on your statement that the minimum bet on the flop was $600, that it was $300/$600.) Were there any antes? Who had the big blind and who bet first on the flop. What was the pre-flop action? Which cards were the diamonds?

      I realize you might not remember everything, but if you can diagram the hand as closely as possible, I can be more confident in my answer.

  2. Another big factor is stack size!!!! Short stacked opponents- dumb to chase. Deep stack, potentially huge profit.

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