Taking A Back Door Flush Draw To The Felt

In this hand we have AKs on the button. It folds around, hero steals, gets called, and goes heads up to it. Nikos says that he plays a lot of 6max 5NL on Pokerstars and the villain is unknown to him. There’s only 26 hands against him, so there’s no real indication on if this person is good or bad or anything like that. Totally fair.

As played, the small blind checks. Hero decides to continuation bet and the small blind decides to check-raise. So in this situation, Nikos decides to call. And calling is one of those where you may look at this and say, “Well, if I fold, I’m folding too often against the check-raise. So I need to start including things that have maybe some back-door equity” and AK of clubs is going to be one of those hands that fits the bill.

In this kind of situation, what you really want to think about is, Okay, I do have some backdoor stuff that could develop. I could catch a turn club. I could catch a jack or a ten on the turn and start developing a backdoor gutshot. And, of course, I could improve to an ace or king and probably be good a percentage of the time as well.

But the thing we really need to consider is that when you’re looking for backdoor stuff, or when you’re even looking to improve to an ace or king on a turn, is what’s logically going to happen? Is the small blind going to continue firing if it’s a club or a jack or a ten, right? Is he going to blow you off of your draw or make it so that your draw isn’t as profitable as you wanted it to be.

Or, put a different way, is there any chance if the small blind decides to maybe check the turn and all of a sudden start giving up, which gives you more maneuverability because then you can pick it up even on cards you didn’t necessarily develop any backdoor equity with.

You have to be thinking that step ahead here. It really has to be a proactive thought process. It can’t just be called because, LOL, we have ace high, and then, “Oh, no, something happened to the turn. I didn’t know what to do with it,” right? You need to have that plan in advance.

Now, the first thing to keep in mind is that the small blind is an unknown. So you’re unknown to him, he’s unknown to you, and really in the situation, is he taking advantage of you that much? Does he really know you’re going to fold things like AK? Yes or no? Obviously the answer to that is probably not.

And then the other thing you need to keep in mind is that stack that doesn’t really allow for this to happen, right? With 100bb stacks there, usually isn’t enough playability going into turns and rivers to take things like backdoor equity and stuff. And it’s just a situation where you probably can’t get away with it as easily as you could if you were playing 200, 300 or 400 big blinds deep. Because when you’re playing $100 big blinds deep and you face a decent-size turn bet, there’s not really a lot of flexibility to continue drawing if you start developing that backdoor equity.

Whereas if all of a sudden you’re playing 300 big blinds deep, there’s a ton of flexibility going into the final card, which of course makes it that much better when you’re drawing. So these are all of the things you want to be keeping in mind in this situation.


I think the call here without a plan is a little bit liberal. You know, I know a lot of players make it and if you have a plan, awesome. But if you’re doing this against unknowns a lot of the time, I think you’re going to find yourself in a lot of confusing spots on turns.

As played, we end up picking up some great equity on the turns with a seven of clubs, small blind decides to fire. And, again, this is one of the things that we want to be pro-actively thinking about, that if we picked up extra equity and we faced a bet, would that bet be too large? And in this situation, this is a pretty large bet. It doesn’t give us the greatest price in the world. And in this spot, Nikos decides to just say, “Okay, fine. Let’s go for it,” and goes for the semi-bluff shove.”

Let’s take a moment and mathematically prove this. To solve something like this, we can simply use a fold equity calculator. This is the free one over at Red Chip Poker. I’ll leave a link in the description box if you want to bookmark this. This is one of those tools that you use a good chunk of the time as you start doing a lot of off-table analysis.

In this situation, let’s just plug in some simple numbers. And for the record, this fold equity calculator does not use decimals, so I’m going to just multiply everything by a hundred just to make it nice and easy.

The pot size before we shove is 322, so just plug that in. How much do we have to call? 149. What are we shoving for? 543. And, yes, even though hero’s shove was technically for a 7.9, this is one of those situations with the effective risk because the small blind has the smaller stack is just the five and change and then we need our estimated equity, and that’s it, pretty simple calculation.

Again, this is stuff that you don’t do in real time. You don’t do this when you’re at the table. This is stuff that you do so much off the table that you just start to develop a decent feel and intuition for, what’s a good spot to get really aggressive.

In this spot, we can just figure out our equity just by using Equilab. I already have our hand. I have the board. And let’s just assign a range of hands that we think that the small blind would take this line with and call our shove with.

I’m not going to put in things like aces, kings and queens because I think those would have been re-raised pre-flop. So let’s say eights, let’s say fives, let’s say 87s sounds fair. Let’s say ace queens. Let’s say king queens because it’s a blind war. I assume people are going to get stickier with those, maybe queen jack, and let’s just take that for the time being. Evaluate it, notice that we have 27% equity, plug that in. Boom, boom, boom.

You notice that we need some folds. So pretty much no matter how you cut it in this situation, we’re going to need some percentage of folds in order to make this a profitable jam. And, remember, if you need 39% of folds to break even, that means you need many more than that to actually show profit, at least legitimate profit that you care about.

I think it’s going to be a little bit tough to find that number of folds unless you’re very, very confident that the small blind was check, raise, bluffing, a large chunk of the time on the flop.

And, again, because it’s not known, there’s no way we can know that. So I don’t think this is a great spot to shove it. Now, yes, we’re not getting, like, the greatest price in the entire world, but I would just call the turn, see what develops on the river. There could be some cards where the small blind slows up on, maybe like a four, six, nine, you know, all those four straight cards. Maybe those open up some extra bluff possibilities for the times that they check.

I think that’s going to be better to do that than just jam it in here and I don’t think there’s going to be a tremendous amount of fold equity, or at least not enough to make this really worthwhile because we really need, like, at least 50% folds to get this away and I don’t think we can expect this often enough.

As-played unfortunately we end up running into eights and, of course, that was going to be in this range. It’s just one of those situations where unless you’re really confident that you can get folds, maybe folds from things like QX and again against an unknown, there’s no way we can think that. I think this is a little optimistic in a situation where we played a draw too aggressively and it happens. You know, I’d always rather see someone play draws more aggro than more passive, but there are times we’re playing too aggro is going to be more painful and I think we just found one of those spots.

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