It’s easy to get in trouble chasing a gutshot straight. These hands require particular care because you are drawing to a strong (and often well-disguised hand) in the form of a straight.
However, the potential strength of a flopped gutshot straight draw is only realized a small amount of the time — about 8.5% on the turn and 16.5% by the river. These long odds, combined with the hand’s potential strength, can make it attractive but expensive.
To help you avoid the most costly errors caused by these tricky hands, the team at WPT Global has put together a guide to untangle the mysteries of the gutshot straight draw. Read on to find out how to turn the troublesome guts shot draw to your advantage.
What is a Gutshot Straight?
First things first, some definitions.
A gutshot straight draw (also known as an “inside straight draw,” “inside draw,” “gut shot draw,” or even just “a gut shot“) is any straight draw where only one rank of card that will complete the straight.
For example, if your hole cards are 5♠6♥ and the flop comes 8♦9♣A♠, then you have four outs to a straight, only hitting a straight on the turn or river with a 7x on the turn or river. This is a gutshot straight.
This is as opposed to an open-ended straight draw where two ranks could complete the straight. For example, if you held the 6♥7♠ on the same flop of 8♦9♣A♠, then your draw would be an open-ended draw.
You then have eight outs to a straight as both the 10x or the 5x on the turn or river would fill up the straight.
A double-gutshot draw is where you have two separate draws to an inside straight. Because you have eight outs, this plays more like an open-ended straight than a regular gut shot. An example of a double gut shot would be holding 4♣10♣ on a flop of 6♥7♦8♠. Here a 5x or 9x on the turn would give you a straight.
Another thing to note is that although the name gut shot implies the gap is in the middle of the straight, there are two draws that are exceptions to this idea. The wheel draw and Broadway draw can also leave you with just four outs if the missing card is the 5x from the end of your wheel (i.e. Ax2x3x4x) or the 10x from the end of Broadway (i.e. JxQxKxAx).
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Learn The Odds
We mentioned earlier that your odds of hitting your flopped gutshot straight on the turn is just 8.5%. The odds are only fractionally better for hitting a turned gutshot on the river (8.7%).
For reference, 8.5% equates to needing pot odds of a little under 11:1 (11.76 decimal or +1,076 American moneyline).
Your odds of hitting a flopped gutshot by the showdown is 16.5% total, requiring odds of 5:1, 6.06, or +506.
Commit these numbers (especially the pot odds) to memory and compare them to a flopped open-ender which hits on the turn 17.0% of the time or 31.5% on either turn or river.
A turned open ender hits 17.4% of the time on the river, which is still better than the odds of hitting a gutshot with two cards to come.
Sometimes It Is Best To Check
The default level-zero play with a straight draw is to check, only calling if you get the correct pot odds. While playing in this straightforward manner won’t work against many opponents in the long run, there are spots where it is the best move.
Usually, this is the case when you are holding undercards to the board (like 5♣6♣ on a board of 2♠8♦9♥ or 8♠9♥K♦). You want to commit as little money as possible in spots like this.
Not only is your hand worthless against almost any other hand, but the card that gives you a straight may also give your opponent a better straight (e.g. they’re holding 6x10x or 10xJx in the example above).
Caution is called for, so check if you can and wait for more information.
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Going for Gutshot Straight Draws When You Won’t Hold the Nuts
The examples above illustrate one of the trickiest aspects of any form of draw. If you’re not drawing to the nuts, then your outs will often give the nuts to some portion of your opponent’s range.
When you play a hand pre-flop, hitting a gut shot draw should never be the goal for your hand. Hitting a weak gutshot draw just adds insult to potential injury.
When you play a gutshot, remember that the difference between a draw to the nuts and any other gut shot is disproportionate compared to other forms of draw.
Beware of Dirty Outs
A dirty out is any out that fills your hand but gives your opponent an even better one.
Beginning players are often so excited by hitting their straight that they can’t let it go, even when all evidence suggests that their opponent’s range will have hit a much better hand.
In the previous example, that was a straight v. straight. However, this isn’t always the case. If you are playing 9♣10♣ on a 2♥6♥7♠ board, then any eight gives you the nut straight. However, the 8♥ puts a possible flush on the board.
Similarly, your J♥Q♥ on an 8♣9♦9♠ could be vulnerable to the 9x10x hitting a full-house when you make your straight.
Always keep this in mind when calculating your outs and implied odds.
Avoid Playing Out of Position In Multiway Pots
Big pots are always enticing. But remember how long your odds are. Multiway pots can feel like they are giving you good odds, but you’ll lose a lot chasing inside straights, even when there’s plenty of action.
Look for spots where you can get a free card. That means avoiding spots where you might call and face a squeeze bet — most often check-folding when out of position.
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Use Aggression To Get Free Cards
Preflop aggression often calls for a bet on the flop. Your preflop bet has put you in control. Following your aggression up with a flop bet gives you a chance to win then and there if your opponent folds.
However, don’t feel obligated to keep that aggression up with a bet on the turn. Especially if you have position, you can take a free card if it’s offered.
This gives you options on the river. If you hit, your value bet might look like a bluff, earning you a call.
If you miss, you can make a judgment as to how profitable an actual bluff will be.
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