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Gut Shot Straight Draws

If there is a hand that acts like the mythical sirens of The Odyssey, appearing beautiful but luring beginner poker players closer and closer to their destruction, that dubious distinction would have to go to the gut shot straight. A straight is a strong hand that usually promises a large pay-off, but chasing a gut shot straight is one of the worst possible moves any poker player can make! A gut shot straight is a straight in which you need one card right in the middle, or "gut" to complete the hand. Even players who know better often fall too far into a pot chasing a hand that they know they should not chase. Why is this hand so terrible, and if it so terrible, why do people still fall for it? This article will contain all you need to know about the gut shot straight.

You hold 7-9 off suit and the flop is 6-10-Q. One person bets, the next raises. What should you do? Run. Yes, an 8 gives you a straight, and one that is rather hard to make out by staring at the board. This is sometimes referred to as a "hidden straight" because it is possible, but since it is unlinked it does not look obvious at first glance of the board. This makes it tempting to call just to see one more card, and then to call any re-raise just on that off chance that you strike it big and sweep the pot. That is the temptation of the gut shot straight, the "What if?" effect. Before you fall for it, though, consider some of the numbers.

I will have you know that the numbers simply aren’t in your favor in this case. Sure, you will get paid off if you hit your straight, but I hear that the lottery is paying well, too. Poker, at its most basic form, is about being able to maximize your odds and minimize your risk. If you can’t do these things, then you are sunk from the very beginning. When you chase after the 8 that is represented in the previous example, you are looking for any of four cards out of the deck. Four cards out of a possible 47 cards will give you the winning hand. Those odds, just better than 12:1, aren’t very good.

Think of it in terms of pot odds. The chance of you hitting that hand is very remote. Still, you will have to put a good bit of money in the pot in order to see the next card. Chances are you will have to pay much more than 1/12th of the pot. If the situation ever does arise that you are required to pay less than 1/12th of the pot in order to chase after the inside straight, then do it. Those times will be rare, though. You should count on having to pay a pretty penny to look at cards in those situations. The people who are going to be betting against you don’t want the 8 to hit in that situation, so they are looking to get you out of the hand.