How To Play One Card Flush Draws

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Flush draws can be tricky, but one card flush draws can be even tougher. When these draws complete the board becomes very obvious and thus it can change your line on earlier streets. In this video I show you some important considerations when playing these single card FDs, including pot/implied odds and future playability. Same as always, if you prefer reading, the script for the video can be found below. Enjoy!

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Hello, and welcome to today’s Quick Plays video on playing one-card flush draws. These draws can be awkward and require a bit of extra consideration. In this video I’ll show you how to correctly visualize these hands and create better lines in these spots!

First, what is a one-card flush draw? An example of this would be holding K♥ Q♠ and the flop comes A♥ 9♥ 4♥, or holding A♥ T♦ and the board is J♦ 7♦ 6♥ 2♦. So there are 3 flush cards on board and you hold only one of the flush cards in your hand. Whenever we have a one-card flush draw it means that there are made flushes possible, which can present disincentives to us when drawing. And these boards are very easy to spot…even for newer poker players.

poker FD

Many players draw incorrectly on those boards, especially when holding the nut card of the flush draw. Let’s look at an example to make this easier to visualize:

In this hand we open-raise with A♠ Q♦ from button, both of the blinds call, and we see a HU flop of K♠ 8♠ 3♠. Both check to us, we continuation bet, the SB check-raises, and the BB folds. Now what?

Newer players may just call this without a second thought because they have a nut flush draw and they REALLY want to see that next card. But when we call with a draw we want to really focus on things like pot odds and implied odds. Which brings us to two big issues:

First, is the pot odds aspect. Once we face the check-raise we are getting 2.8:1 on a call and need 27% equity to continue. If you aren’t sure how to figure out the pot odds please watch the free pot odds video.

Some players may say “well, even if I ONLY assume my 9 flush outs are good, if I times them by 4 (using the 4/2 rule) I have an estimated 36% equity and only need 27% given the pot odds!” But the question you should always ask yourself is “do I expect to see both the turn AND river every time? Or will I face a bet I can’t handle on the turn most of the time?”

…do I expect to see both the turn AND river every time?

If you expect to face a real bet on the turn when you don’t improve, then you are really only getting to see one card…so you would times your outs by 2, not 4, to estimate your equity. If you times 9 by 2 then you have 18% estimated equity…which isn’t even close to the 27% necessary to breakeven on calling the check-raise!

Then you may say “well, if I’m not getting correct pot odds I can always consider the implied odds”…which brings us nicely to issue number 2. If you improve to your flush in this hand, will you really get paid?

Regardless of the spade you improve to, it’s tough to envision getting paid off. If we call and the turn is a spade is the SB really going to make many mistakes with Kx or even a set? If the SB were semi-bluffing the flop with a weak spade is he really going to go crazy with a weak flush on a 4-spade board on the turn or river?

FD implied odds

Here’s a tip that you should help you a lot. If you think the SB is mostly check-raising big hands on the flop, you will likely face a bet on the Turn when you miss and likely won’t get much action if you improve. But if you think the SB is bluffing the flop a lot, then you have much higher implied odds for the times he continues bluffing when the 4th spade completes trying to blow you off a hand like Kx, red Queens, etc.

Most of the time you won’t be able to call this check-raise without some other plans. These plans could range from:

1. Calling the flop with intentions of semi-bluff shoving over turn bets
2. Calling the flop thinking he’ll check the turn and you can take the pot away when you miss
3. Or calling the flop against a horrible player

If villain is awful it increases your implied odds since they may not be able to lay down even Kx when you improve to a spade. Or maybe he improves to his own small flush and can’t lay it down. Or maybe he flopped a small flush and refuses to fold it even when the 4th spade comes in. These aren’t mistakes that good players will make…but bad players could from time to time.

So the moral of the story is that calling is usually not going be the best play without some supporting information. If calling isn’t a good play then our only two options left are folding and 3betting. 3Betting and playing your draw very aggressively can be a valid line, and you can use a fold equity calculator to proof the validity of this play. If you aren’t sure how to use this tool, click the image below to watch the free video.

free poker tool

The goal of this video isn’t so much to give you a perfect line to take every time you flop or turn a one-card flush draw. That would be impossible since every spot is different; from your opponent type, to the exact draw you have, to position, to future plans and information. But if you take away the consideration of pot odds, implied odds, whether you likely have a 1 or 2 card draw, and whether flatting is a good option…you are on your way to playing your draws better.

There are many times when folding is actually the best option with these draws. Since the pot odds and implied odds are usually unfavorable, and your future playability is often times unknown. Get familiar with the fold equity calculator so you can start finding good spots to play these semi-bluffs aggressively which will ultimately give you more flexibility when playing these awkward spots….


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SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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