Flush Draws On Paired Boards

Today’s question came privately via YouTube. Justin prefaces the hand by saying, “This is an uncomfortable spot out of position, facing a flop raise versus a very loose passive player.” Playing a flush draw on a paired board is already tricky…but doing so OOP against a passive player is even trickier. Let’s look at the hand:

This hand is from 5NL Online, there’s an open-limp, folds to Hero, Hero decides to open from the big blind and EP1 in this situation is a 35/13 over 54 hand, so yes, I would definitely categorize him as a loose passive opponent. He decides to call, not shocking, and just to be fair, the pre-flop raise could be just a pinch larger, if you wanted to go to something like 20 or 22, just simply because you’re going to have such a huge skill edge, such a huge card edge against this particular individual that I don’t mind just putting it a little bit more pre-flop strictly for value.

So we end up getting called, end up flopping a flush draw with overs, Hero decides to continuation bet, totally standard, and faces a flop raise from EP1. At this point Justin calls and he says:

I have two strong over cards and a nut flush draw, so I have a difficult time even against a passive player folding with what appears to be so much equity. I call hoping to improve on the turn, hoping to stack this player if a spade hits. I think my opponent has three of a kind, but with so much apparent equity and money behind, I can’t find the fold button on the flop. I don’t think re-raising will accomplish much either and I don’t want to go all in. Thoughts?

So whenever I’m studying a hand like this, I always want to back up one tick and I actually start by doing the math of a semi-bluff shove. We can do that by pulling out a fold equity calculator, pulling out Equilab, and plugging in some basic numbers. In this situation, the effective stack that we’re going to be shoving for $5.51, which is what we put right here. Even though if we did shove, it would tend to be for a larger number than that because of the effective stack sizes, that’s all we would technically be risking. The pot size right at this moment is $1.86, we’re facing a raise of $1 and we need our estimated equity, which we can get from Equilab.

We plug in our hand, we plug in the board and we have to plug in a range for our opponent. Let’s give him a pretty strong range of hands. Let’s give him the boat, let’s give him quads, let’s give him five/four suited. He thought that maybe he would have like trip, so let’s give him like a four/three suited and a four suited. Then let’s also give him some other things that makes sense, maybe like a king/jack suited, actually we’re going to do suit selection and we’re going to choose all the logical spade hands that we think that he could have. Obviously because we have ace/queen of it, he couldn’t have king/queen, he couldn’t have something like ace/jack of spades, so he could really only have very specific spade combos. Let’s give him all of those that make sense. Six/five doesn’t make sense because it would be covered. Spades, okay. Because of this kind of opponent, I’m going to also apply sixes, sevens, and maybe eights into his range as well. For the times that he’s over-valuing an over pair.

So in this situation that is a 43% equity, calculate it, and notice that we need a couple of folds for this to be break even, roughly 18%. If we thought that he were going to fold say 40 or 50% of the time, then this would, of course, be a very profitable shove.

flush draw equity

If you’ve never worked with a fold equity calculator before, I did a Quick Plays video on it, I would definitely suggest looking that up. This is a very, very powerful tool if you’re learning how to semi-bluff, jam, draws and things like that and this would obviously fit the bill. It’s just important to know when it’s going to be mathematically correct to play a draw super aggressive versus when it’s time to maybe not do that.

In this situation there’s a couple kind of things that you want to consider. The more hands that EP1 would consider raise/folding here, like sixes, sevens, eights, those kind of things, the better off you are because you’re generating more folds from his range. The more dominated flush draws that he would play like this or hands like six/seven that he would play like this, the more your equity goes up, or the more he folds, either one, you’re doing just fine and you’re going to make a profitable jam.

There’s things like that and also the smaller the effective stack size is, the easier it is to jam this as well, so it’s a little bit awkward because instead of starting the hand with just 100 big blinds, we started with a little bit closer to 120 big blinds and those 20 big blinds do make a difference in this kind of situation.

In general, I think a lot of players will call here because they’ll look at the odds and are like, “Well, I’m getting 1.9 to 1, it’s close enough, and they’ll just go from there.” But the thing you have to remember is that if your calling here, you’re most likely only going to be getting a one-card draw, because if you check the term when you miss, chances are you’re going to be facing a bet, given the fact that he chose a large raise size on the flop, chances are you can expect to face a decent size bet on the turn that you’re not going to get proper odds on.

My point being is that you’re taking a one-card draw out of position. Usually that’s not going to be the most profitable thing in the world, so it’s definitely something that I want to consider before I just smash the call button here like a lot of players do.

One last thing I want to say about this flop spot, and again, looking at the math part of it, is that if you think you can discount any 4x or 55 or 44, any of these super-nutted type stuff, the better and better your equity is going to look against his range, simply because if you can take away the stuff that has you reduced to very minimal outs or possibly no outs, if he already has a made hand, the better and better you’re going to be doing here.

…would he always raise here with the nutted combinations?

Personally, I would probably discount some of his boats and quads in this situation. Obviously there’s only one combo of quads but I would still discount it slightly. Just for the fact that I assume a player like this will slow play it occasionally. Because of that, I reduce those combos and then it can put more weight into the combos of hands that either we have huge equity against or that we actually dominate and have an equity edge against.

Personally, I’m just going to play this draw really, really aggressive. This is just generally how I tend to play two over cards on a flush draw, very, very aggressive as opposed to playing this passive line where I don’t expect to really make too much money on the turn because again, what are you going to do when you call here? Break the turn, check, face a bet that you can’t handle and then you’re just forced to check/fold.

Personally I think the jamming the flop can be profitable against this kind of opponent. If I happen to jam and he called me with sevens, well, I have huge equity. If I jam and he happens to call me with 4x, well, sucks to be me, but I least have some outs and if he has pocket fives, well, super sucks to be me.

But by the same token, I don’t expect him to have enough of that to justify taking this particular line, so again, if you work with a fold equity calculator enough, you’ll find these situations where you can play your draws super aggressively and I think in this exact situation we can’t really discount him having zero bluffs or zero things that would raise/fold on that turn, in which case I’m very interested in going for the jam on the flop.

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