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1440078841_Cards-Club Combo draws are a frequently misunderstood and misplayed type of hand in low stakes live cash games.  Most people play them either aggressively or passively all the time without considering the exact situation at hand.  Like most things in poker, however, how you play a combo draw is extremely situationally dependent.

Play Aggressive

In general, if you have a strong combo draw, you should play it aggressively if you think you have fold equity.  Boards where combo draws are present tend to be wet, scary boards, so as long as your opponent hasn’t shown much initiative and isn’t likely to have a hand bigger than one pair, it’s very likely that he’ll fold to aggression.  Even if he doesn’t fold, you can still draw out.  In fact, if you have greater than 50% equity (14 outs or more), getting your opponent to put more money in can actually be +EV for you even though you’re hand isn’t made yet.  Imagine having a 15 out combo draw (54.1% to win by the river) on the flop and shoving all in for $100 against an opponent that covers you.  Your bet here is technically a value bet because you win more than 50% of the time if called.  Each time your opponent calls that $100, you win roughly $8 more on average, since you’re guaranteed to see both the turn and river.  It’s important to keep in mind, however, that while such situations may be +EV, they might not be the most +EV.  Against weaker opponents, it might very well be more profitable to simply call, then get the money in with 100% equity when you make your draw. 

Fold Equity

Playing combo draws when you have fold equity is easy.  Things become a little more complicated when you don’t have fold equity.  In these cases, it all comes down to the strength of your draw, your opponents’ tendencies, and the effective stack sizes.  If effective stacks are deep, assess the strength of your draw by looking at both your effective and implied odds like you would any other draw.  If your opponent bets into you or raises you and you have the odds to call, then just call.  Without fold equity, there’s no reason to raise/reraise if stacks are deep.


1440078836_Cards-SpadeThe biggest mistakes typically happen in situations where one is heads up and holds a combo draw on the flop but effective stacks are shallow enough for one player to be all in with two roughly pot-sized bets.  In such situations, with combo draws, one should frequently just shove the flop even when there is no fold equity.  Doing so allows you to “realize your equity” by ensuring you get to see both the turn and river.  If you simply flat the flop and your opponent bets huge on the turn, you might not have the odds to call anymore since there is only one more card to come.  Waiting until the turn to get the money in effectively cuts your equity in half.  This is mostly relevant to combo draws with less than 15 outs, since a pot-sized shove on the turn prices out all of these draws when there is only one card to come.

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ALL IN Magazine Contributor Zhijian Xing