The Sucker End of a Straight

You might think the odds are in your favor after hitting a straight, but if you’re not careful you may be drawing dead without a chance to win the hand. If you’re up against three of a kind, a straight only has a 62% chance to win, and if you have the sucker end of a straight you may not have any odds to win at all.

Say you’re in a hand against four other players and a flop of 5c-6h-7d hits the board. You have the K-4 of spades and an open-ended straight draw because either a 3 or an 8 will hit you to make a straight.

When the turn card comes it’s the 8h. You make your straight and it looks like you’re going to take down the pot. But there’s a problem with your hand; any opponent that has a 9 in their hand will have a bigger straight than you, or even worse, any player holding 9-10 will have the nut straight and you’ll be drawing dead when you think you have the best hand.

This is a dangerous spot to be in because it seems like you have such a big hand. If any of your opponents bet out at the flop, they may have a “made hand” like top pair. If nobody bet at the flop then they may have been on the straight draw like you were, and the likelihood of them having a bigger one than you is strong.

If you can get out of the hand without it costing you any more chips, then just check down the action with your small straight. If you have to call a bet don’t call a big one; no more than half the size of the pot at the most.

If nobody bets you can make a small bet with your small straight, but if you get raised it’s safe to say that you’re likely beat. It would be wise to fold if your bet gets raised, because few players would raise in that situation without having the big end of the straight.

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