Raising Draws

Often referred to as semi-bluffing as well. Should you do it? Yes absolutely. But I kept this for a small section near the end of the book for a reason. You shouldn’t be raising with your draws that often at these limits because you have much less fold equity than you think. What exactly is this fold equity thing that I have mentioned several times in this book?

Fold equity is the added equity (think ownership or right to) of the pot that we can create by betting and getting them to fold. This works great in theory, if they fold. The problem at these stakes is that they don’t fold that often. So by raising a draw, which is usually a statistical underdog to a made hand (top pair etc), all we are doing is putting more money in the pot with the worst of it.

This doesn’t mean that you should never raise with a draw. They won’t always have a good made hand and they will still fold from time to time. Furthermore, you will sometimes have enough equity in the pot with your draw to raise for value. It will frequently gain you a free card on the turn as well.

Example:

In MP you have,

You raise and get called by an SLP in the SB. The flop comes,

He donks into you for 1/2 the pot. You should raise.

Even if he has some weak top pair type hand, we are actually a small favorite here.

So not only do we have a slight edge here in immediate equity (53% to 47%), our opponent won’t actually have a hand as strong as top pair here every time either. So we will get folds from time to time as well. Also, when we are called he will be much more inclined to check the turn, which allows us to check as well when we miss and take the free card. Therefore it is clearly +EV to raise here.

Let’s find a closer spot. Imagine the flop in the above hand was this instead,

So now if we give our opponent the same kind of top pair type hand we can see that the percentages have changed a little bit,

We have lost a full 7% equity in the pot because we only have one over now instead of two. Should we still raise the flop? Probably, since he can still have a bunch of weaker pairs or air that might fold some of the time. Plus we will still get that free card on the turn a lot of the time when called. But it is a lot closer. And in the above situation if all we had was a naked flush draw with no overs, it might be best to just call on the flop as our equity will be even lower.

I hope the point of this section is fairly clear. Raising your draws is a great thing to incorporate into your game and makes you a much more difficult player to play against. However at these stakes you won’t have nearly as much fold equity as you might think. And they aren’t paying any attention to your image either.

You should still raise some of your draws, but only the good ones. As a rule of thumb I’d probably raise the 12 out or better draws and play a smaller pot with the others. There are other factors at play here such as your opponent’s donk bet%. But as a rule I would play your draws a little bit slower at these stakes and of course go nuts when you hit.

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