Playing for a Straight

Drawing to a flush, after the flop, gives you a 35% chance of hitting it. Drawing to an open ended straight, after the flop, gives you a 31.5% chance of hitting. So why then do straights seem easier to get?

From our overall basket of the 133 million hand combinations available to us in Hold’Em only 3% of them relate to having a flush draw. There’s a 4.6% chance of getting a straight.

Of course there are many more card combinations available to make straights than there are for flushes. If, for instance we hold  then we’re looking for many different types of flop that can help us win the pot. Flops like  are fantastic and are  even better (if highly unlikely) but if we swop the  for the  then suddenly even the flop of  looks like big trouble for us.

The only straights that are worth playing for (without actually hitting one on the flop), after the flop, are the open ended ones. This simply means that the cards we hold and the cards on the flop give us the best possible chances of making a straight with 2 cards still to come.

E.g. Lets assume we’ve still got hold of . The flop comes down as . Any THREE or any EIGHT will give us the NUT straight in that we’d make



After the flop we have a better than 31% chance of getting a 3 or an 8 (4 unseen 3’s + 4 unseen8’s = 8 outs * 2 = 16 outs = 16 / 46.5 = 31% approx)
It’s therefore a valid proposition to play for an open ended straight if there are still you and two other players in the pot at this time.

The One Card Straight

A situation you want to avoid (that many people will not try to avoid) is the one card straight. That is when you form a straight using only one of the cards from your hand.

For example you hold:

and the flop is

many people you play with will reason the hand this way: I have a pair, and a gutshot straight draw (any Queen). Really your only remote chance of winning this pot would be for you to catch another jack. You are almost certainly beat right now. If you catch a ten to give yourself two pair you will be stuck with a hand that can be beaten by any Queen. If you catch a Queen then anyone with a ten will split the pot with you. So, in this case, even though a Queen will give you the "nut" straight there is a good chance you will not take the entire pot even if your four-outer happens.

If the situation is "if you don’t improve you lose and if you do improve you split" then the correct action is "fold."


Gutshot Straight Draw – player is looking for a card to FILL his straight. E.g player holds 4s 5c and the flop is As 2c 7d. With cards to come (turn & river) he’s looking for a 3x to FILL the straight for him.

Four-Outer – The number of cards still unseen that can help you win the pot or share it.

Need To Know Block:

  1. The chances of completing a straight when you have an OPEN ENDED draw is 31.5%

Next week’s article is called "Why Straights Are Better Than Flushes & Why Flushes Are Better Than Straights"