Low Limit Holdem Nut Hand Draws

One part of reading the articles here at LLHSAT and really of playing Texas Holdem poker in general is that it is important to think about things abstractly.  As you participate in more and more live games this kind of thinking will happen automatically. You will become familiar with situations that occur frequently and realize that it is not just the current hand that is important, it is the thought process that goes into how you play this particular frequently occurring situation that will really make a difference in your bankroll.

Some experienced Holdem players at the middle limits and up will visit this site and jump immediately to the starting hand selections and proclaim that they are too loose.  For players who are familiar with tight play, a low limit game can seem frustrating and mysterious.  It is difficult to know whether you are ahead or behind in the hand, and the strongest starting hands are cracked on a regular basis.  For these players it takes a shift in thinking to master a low limit game, which brings us to the low limit holdem topic of the moment:

Pick pre-flop hands that turn into draws to the nuts

The "to the nuts" portion of this rule is very important.  Hands like AXs (an ace and any other card of the same suit) are mentioned again and again here because they are very strong in multiway pots, primarily because of their ability to turn into a draw to the nut flush. 

While it is obvious that when drawing to a hand it is always "nice" to be able to draw to the highest possible version of that hand (the highest possible straight, flush, full house, etc.) but it goes even further than that...

Nut draws = your ability to be aggressive

Consider the difference when you are drawing to an ace high flush versus a ten high flush.  In the first case you know that if you make your hand you are going to win the hand (barring the board pairing or a straight flush possibility appearing).  In the latter case you can't be too confident in your hand even if you make it.  Yes, any flush will win a good percentage of the time but there will be times that your ten high flush is beaten by a jack high or better, and that will cost you not just the money you spent drawing towards the flush but potentially other bets on the river if you or your dominating opponent raise one another (and if your opponent is the one with the ace high flush you can rest assured that they will raise).

What this means is that when you are in a multiway hand and you do have a draw to the nuts (especially the non-splittable nut flush) you should be as aggressive as possible while keeping in mind that your goal is to get as much money as you can in the pot.  So, for example, in most (again this is depending on the particular table and situation you are playing) cases you should avoid making most of the table call two bets cold, however if most of the players are already in for a bet you always want to make them pay another bet on each betting round before the river when you hold the nut draw.

You accomplish a few things by doing this.  First, you maximize your profit when you make your draw.  Second, you may sometimes get out weaker made hands like middle pair and bottom pair, low pocket pairs and big ace high hands like AK/AQ which can give you additional outs to win the hand by pairing one of your drawing cards on the end.  Third, you introduce action to the table which keeps players sitting and keeps them putting their money in the middle of the table.

Note that for purposes of deception you cannot only be aggressive with your nut draws you must also be similarly aggressive with your made hands.  Observant players will not know whether your betting strength indicates a hand like a set or two pair or a flush or straight draw which is exactly what you want.  A good example of this is when the board flops three of the same suit.  You should play the hand almost identically when you hold an actual nut flush (the ace and another card that matches the suit on the board) or just an ace that matches the suit on the board for the nut flush draw.


If you are drawing to the nuts versus more than a few opponents and you think you can raise without scaring most of them out of the pot then do it!  In the long run this will translate directly to extra money in your bankroll.

Make Money

Nut draws and position

Like many other aspects of Texas Holdem play, position is a big factor in increasing the amount of money you win (or decreasing the amount you lose).  Many times you will have to limit aggression on nut draws when you are in early position.  Be aware of where you are in relation to who is left to act before deciding to bet or raise with your draw.  Betting into an aggressive player from early position can make them reraise to try to isolate you--effectively stealing most of your income should you make your draw.  If you feel certain that someone will bet your draw for you then let them!

Non nut draws = the need to be conservative

While we'd always like to be drawing to the nuts, sometimes things just don't work out that way and yet pot odds dictate that we continue with a non nut draw.  In these cases we usually want to limit the amount of additional money that goes into the pot especially for non nut straight draws and very low flush draws (you can be somewhat more aggressive with a king or queen high flush draw but even in these cases you'll often want to save that extra aggression for after you make your draw).

If you do make your non-nut draw on the river you may want to check it if you are against one other opponent at that point and you don't have a strong read that your hand is better.  You can sometimes entice them to bluff at the pot when they would have folded for the last bet if they missed their draw. This will also save you money when they made their draw to a higher hand.