Basic Poker Strategy: “Drawing” Hand Basics

A drawing hand is any pair of cards that have no immediate value but have the potential to become strong hands if the right cards hit the felt.

As an example, let’s use a 9-8 suited or J9. While you wouldn’t go all in on these immediately, there’s a good chance that they can improve radically when the community cards are dealt out. It’s important to note that more times than not, drawing hands become worthless with the flop, so you need to learn to let go.

A drawing hand generally improves by becoming a straight or flush, as both of our examples above show. Those are strong, pot-winning hands.

You’ll also be able to avail yourself of two-pair hands frequently, but those are much more risky to go big on, as three of a kind and above wipes you from the board.

Drawing hands are basically how low-limit real-money online poker players make their bank and you’ve got to be able to measure the potential of a drawn hand while keeping in mind the odds are generally against getting what you’re looking for.

In that way, they’re a lot like small pairs — they don’t have what it takes to win a pot on their own but if they improve to trips, then you have a strong hand. I actually treat them identically when I play them. Depending on the rotation and how high the betting is when it gets to me, I’ll play a pair of sixes about the same as I would Jh9h.

Monetarily, you’ll want a lot of players in on a hand when you’re seeing the river with a drawing hand. Interestingly, big cards lose value against a big field because the more players, the better the winning hand has to be to take the pot.

For instance, if you’re playing against seven or eight opponents, pocket rockets aren’t going to cut it unless they push as many other players as they can out of the hand.

Ironically, a drawing hand is a better defense than another strong pair because a drawing hand can make a much stronger hand than what they’ve got: a straight, flush or (be still my heart) a straight flush.