How to Play a Flush Draw

You called preflop with two suited cards and then you see another two of your suit on the flop.  You have seen this situation hundreds of times, you have flopped the infamous flush draw and now you have to decide whether to play it fast or slow.

The following article aims to answer this question decisively so that next time you flop a flush draw, you will know exactly what to do.

Stack Size

Stack size is a very important consideration whenever you flop a flush draw. When stacks are shallow, IE you are in the middle stages of a tournament or sit and go. You should always play your flush draw aggressively.

Let your opponent make a continuation bet, then you can make a committing raise with your hand and put your opponent to a decision for all his chips.

When stacks are deep, 100 big blinds or more, your decision becomes a lot more complex. You have to consider how your opponent plays, whether your hand has reverse implied odds and many other factors.

Draw Strength

Nut flush draws can always be played stronger and faster than weaker draws. The reason for this is twofold:

  1. The nut flush beats lower flush draws, so if your opponent makes a mistake by getting in a worse draw, you profit greatly.
  2. The nut flush draw has more equity against made hands. For example, say your opponent has KK on Td 7d 5c. Ad Jd has 45% equity, whereas QdJd has only 35% equity. Over the long run, having that over card helps you significantly in situations like this.

In the same vein you can also play combo draws fast. An example of a combo draw would be something like 8d 9d, or 4d 5d on the same board. These draws have so much equity against almost everything. Take say 8d9d, with a straight flush draw you have 42% equity against a set and 55% equity against pocket aces.

In general, combo draws have so much equity against your opponents’ range that you always play them fast. Remember, by raising there are two ways to win, by calling there is only one way to win. Theoretically, any time you have this much equity, you should semi bluff and try and make your opponent fold a made hand.

Likewise, when you have a weaker draw, you still have a lot of equity against your opponents range but your hand isn’t strong enough to get allin. So for example, take QdJd on the same Td 7d 5c board.  In this spot, if you raise, you are not comfortable getting all-in. Your opponent will likely re-raise with his stronger draws and stronger made hands.  If you fold when he re-raises you, you will be bluffed off your equity when he has a made hand or perhaps even a weaker draw. If you call all-in you will get it in as a dog to his whole range. This is a situation that is not that favourable to us, so in this spot I will usually just smooth call my opponents bet on the flop.

If I call the flop I can win by hitting my hand, turning more equity and calling again or by having my opponent check to me and I steal the pot.

By playing is passively we can represent a medium strength made hand and take the pot down if our opponent shows weakness.