Why Straights Are Better Than Flushes & Why Flushes Are Better Than Straights

Why Straights Are Better Than Flushes

Since we just said flushes are better than straights this section may come as a bit of a surprise to you. Well, nut flushes are better than straights any day. You should feel much more comfortable drawing for a third spade on the board when you hold a suited ace (of spades) than you should for any kind of straight draw by itself.

As we pointed out before, nut straights can be compromised with more cards to come, but nut flushes cannot.

On the other hand you can flop (or draw to) the nut straight with any connector (two consecutive cards like 6 and 7) or even any one or two gap combination (like 6 and 8 or 6 and 9). For example if you hold:

and the flop is

then you have the nut straight! You didn’t have the greatest starting cards in the world but you have done it this time!

N.B: Three gap combinations (like 6 and 10) can never form the nut straight, since if your dream comes true and you flop 7 8 9 then you can still be beaten by J 10.

The crucial difference is that with flushes having an Ace high flush is crucial, but with straights you can have the nuts with a much wider variety of cards. To make the point using the above example of T-8 let’s say the turn comes

and the river is

now your hand has "improved" into a heart flush, but the value of your hand has greatly declined. Now any person holding two diamonds where one is greater than a TEN will win the pot.

Another aspect of straights is that they can be difficult to see on the board and you will get much more action on a board of 8 5 7 than you will on a board that contains three cards of the same suit.

For these reasons you should always play a straight fast when you get it.

Why Flushes Are Better Than Straights

A flush draw, especially an ace high flush draw is superior to a straight draw for two main reasons. First there is one more out for a flush draw (9 completing flush cards for a four-flush vs. 8 completing straight cards for an open ended straight).

Secondly, and more importantly, a completed straight draw can be destroyed on the turn or river by "counterfeiting". Counterfeiting is when one of the cards in your hand which completes the straight comes on the board. Let’s say you hold…

and you get this fabulous flop…

The nut straight! Of course you are in there betting and raising and then… on the river…

Your hand is still fairly strong, but anyone with any seven has the same hand you do. In addition you run the not insignificant risk that there is a player with

who finds themselves the proud new owner of the (and your!) nuts.

On the other hand, if you hold  and the flop brings  (the nut flush) you are going to have the nut flush on the river. Period! Bigger hands could appear (a pair on the board or cards that support a straight flush) but your flush, by definition, cannot be counterfeited (beaten by another flush).

Next week’s article is on ‘Successful Betting’