When opponents draw out on you at poker

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (2008) in Casino Player.

Stronger players enter pots with superior hands more frequently than weaker players. That truth in itself explains the majority of long-range profit that professional poker players earn against inexperienced and average opponents.

We’re talking about ratios here — the quantity of strong hands played versus the quantity of weaker ones. That means stronger players will more often start with an advantage and weak players will more often start with a disadvantage, hoping to draw out in order to win the pot.

The term “draw out” means that a player had the worst hand, but got lucky and caught the cards needed to win. Sometimes you hear players — even accomplished ones — complain that they were drawn out on.


They think that’s a bad thing, worthy of sympathy. It isn’t.

I want you to pay close attention to this: If you get drawn out on more frequently than your opponents, based on the number of hands you play, you’re probably destined to make money. In the short term, it may only be theoretical money, because you might be unlucky for a while.

But in the long term, the greater percentage of your hands that you’re drawn out on, the bigger your bankroll is likely to grow. It’s the truth.

A good sign

If a large percentage of the hands you lose are a result of being drawn out on, that’s actually a good sign. If you go in with the better hand, that implies that the only way an opponent can beat you is to draw out. And often that misfortune will happen. But don’t let yourself become emotionally upset when it occurs.

The big secret to winning at poker is to be the player drawn out on, not the player doing the drawing out. That’s not always the case, because there are quality speculative hands you’ll play, also. But in general, it’s a positive thing when opponents come from behind to beat you.

When you understand this concept, you bring the right attitude to the poker table. You understand that your objective is to very frequently start with the better hands and to expect that opponents will frequently draw out on you.

So next time, instead of complaining about being drawn out on, brag about it! It works for me. — 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.


23 thoughts on “When opponents draw out on you at poker”

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  1. Hi mike,
    I’m having trouble putting players back n a hand . And I want to change my game to a winning business.

  2. I dont consider AA vs KQ as best hand, KQ can have good reason to call bet and win, very playable, even if a value judgement, I do not consider K2 on a Broadway King high board a playable hand. I dont get to have that 98% hand 1 more time in T much less 49 more times.

  3. Having lost two big pots the last two nights to a 4 outer, and a 2 outer, this was the perfect article to read. The initial feeling always crushes your soul, but would I run the same situations again? You better believe it, because I know I’ll win 9 out of 10 times.

    1. Actually, the concept applies perfectly to tournaments. The more often you get knocked out of a tournament on a bad beat, meaning you were “drawn out on,” the more likely you are to be successful overall.

      1. more likely is not a certainty, and being on left side of bell curve (gaussian) can be a certainty for a life time.

  4. I see what you did there Mike. In the long term, people keeping tabs are more apt to call, hoping to draw out on you. When they don’t… BAM! You get their money.

  5. again a falacy – in cash games a truth , in tournaments you get drawn out your not in the tournament anymore! and what does posting anonymous have to do with anything!

  6. I mean the very idea that cards remember when you were drawn out on and then somehow feel as though they owe you one in the future.
    “and the bigger your bankroll is likely to grow. Its the truth”
    Far from the truth. Not even close. Heres the truth that deck of cards isnt keeping records.

    1. You’re right: Cards don’t remember, which is why streaks are only identified after they happen. You’ll find that’s a core teaching of mine, so why are you anonymously implying that I say the opposite?

      You say my statement is “far from the truth,” but if you examine the logic in the entry above, the conclusion becomes self-evident. In fact, you’re invited to explain (hopefully using a real name) how anything else could be possible.

      Straight Flushes,
      Mike Caro

    2. for me it is obvious that cards actually do remember! only not for long in most cases.

  7. Happy to read this. My friends are always drawing out on me at poker. I’m starting to wonder if somebody up there doesn’t like me.

  8. Been experiencing the same thing online for the most part: Carbon, Seals, and even play chips on poker stars…. Go in with the best, anywhere from a 50-98% favorite, and bam, they hit the river, or turn, or runner runner from a 3 straight to 5! What is this!?!? It happens so so so very much. Thank you for the encouragement.

  9. I have this kind of attitude right now but how about when I’m in a cash game, always, I mean like almost everytime people drawn out on me when I’m winning about 1,5 of my buy in causing me losing a big pot in about 2 to 1 favourite. this always happened online, thus I’m unconciously become to believe that the card is rigged. How to overcome this problem now mike?

  10. Mike, I keep having to remind myself of this, I think I need a T-shirt with the slogan "I get it in with the best more often!" on it. Many many thanks.

  11. Thanks Mike. Something we all should know but forget sometimes. In the heat of the moment it's hard to take consolation from knowing that the other player had only two outs and hit one. 

  12. Man Mike…How crazy is this! I got back from Commerce Casino and got rivered 3 times! Each time, the opponent only had no more than 6 outs. I couldnt believe it. Im really glad I came across this post to put things into perspective.

  13. I think many players panic and go on tilt when a “donk” sucks out on them because they have an insufficient bankroll to handle the variance swings.
    Opponents will hit their flush draws 36% and their 2-way straight draws 32% of the time. That can be scary and even devastating when your pockets aren’t deep enough. It doesn’t help to know that “eventually” the donks are losing, when their suckouts are killing your meager bankroll.

    I read an article about BP and their oil spill that said: “The cost per day of the oil spill to BP so far has been $16 million. That number is dwarfed by the $66 million per day the firm made in profit in the first quarter of this year. Indeed, in 2009 BP’s total profits were $14 billion.”
    I think this is an excellent example of how having a large enough bankroll can help take some of the sting out of bad beats.

    1. that is gold and explains damage control in a way even a redneck from the swamps could understand 
      welll said

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