What is a Straight? And How Should You Play Straights?
True to its name, a straight consists of five sequential cards in a game of poker. Straights are often strong enough to win in a poker showdown and rank sixth in the poker hand rankings.
The suits don’t matter when making a straight. A made straight with all cards of the same suit qualifies as a straight flush or royal flush, both of which stand higher in the poker hand rankings than the standard straight.
The ten-to-ace straight displayed above is sometimes referred to as a broadway straight. Other examples of straights would be hands like Q♦ J♠ T♦ 9♣ 8♥ and 8♥ 7♠ 6♦ 5♠ 4♣ .
If two or more straights go to showdown, the straight with the strongest high card wins. The ace can act as the high end of the broadway straight, as well as the low end of the ace-to-five straight. That hand, also known as the wheel, looks like A♠2♦3♥4♦5♣.
How Does A Straight Rank?
A straight beats three-of-a-kind, as well as every other hand below that in the poker hand rankings. You’ve drawn a strong hand if you make a straight, but straights are more common than four-of-a-kind, full houses, and flushes.
From a 52-card poker deck, you have an 0.395% probability (253.8-to-1 odds against) of making a straight from drawing five random cards. There are only ten distinct ways to make a straight, but all of the different suit combinations yield 10,200 total possible ways to make a straight (excluding straight flushes and royal flushes).
In Texas Hold’em, your chances of making a straight increase, as you’re trying to make the best five-card hand out of seven possible cards. With all five community cards on the board, you have a 4.62% chance of making a straight (20.6-to-1 odds against).
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into how you should play a flopped straight in different situations.
How to Play Like a Pro When You Flop a Straight
Boy, oh boy — you flopped a straight! All you can think about is Vegas and the fuckin’ Mirage.
But before counting your opponent’s stack, you have some decisions to make. How do you extract max value from your opponent now?
In the following sections, we’ll go over four preflop scenarios (and two “sub-situations”) and cover how you should play flopped straights in each.
1. How to Play a Flopped Straight After Defending the Big Blind
This is one of the most common spots you will find yourself in with a flopped straight. Someone opened from any position (except the small blind) and you called from the Big Blind.
In these scenarios, you should ALWAYS check-raise with your flopped straight. I repeat, always check-raise with a flopped straight as the Big Blind.
Some examples of this can be:
- 5♣ 4♣ on A♠ 2♦ 3♣
- T♦ 8♦ on Q♣ J♥ 9♠
Going the check-call route will cost you a lot of money in the long run. On average, you’d win a lot less against the higher part of the villain’s range that is willing to stack off, and not that much more from the villain’s weak hands that decide to keep firing on the turn and/or on the river.
This happens because your opponent would still call with a bunch of those weak hands even against the check-raise (think hands like gutshots and open-enders). This forces them to put more into the pot right away. Those other weak hands that bet-fold weren’t likely to put in any more money anyway!
This would be you in the eyes of a regular if you check-called with your straight:
2. How to Play a Flopped Straight Multiway
This one is especially important for the live players out there. In theory, whether you were the preflop aggressor or the preflop caller, I suggest you always go for a check-raise.
Some examples could be check-raising the following hands when there’s 3+ people to the flop:
- K♥ T♣ on A♠ Q♥ J♠
- T♥ 9♥ on J♣ 8♠ 7♥
From the limited information we have regarding multiway strategy, it seems like it’s best to check a whole damn lot. Even if some hands could benefit from betting, it is extremely hard to balance that range, so the solver prefers to just check everything and go from there.
That being said, is betting horrible? No, I wouldn’t say so.
If your opponents are weak, that is to say, loose and not paying much attention to how you build your strategy, then it might be more profitable to start betting a value-only range out of position as the preflop aggressor. As the preflop caller, though, go for that check-raise
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3. How to Play a Flopped Straight In Position as the Preflop Raiser
Always bet. Always bet. Always bet.
The only time when checking back would make any sort of sense would be if you are up against a supreme aggro maniac whale, who is just waiting to overbet the turn and rip it all-in on the river when you check back. Maybe he’s on some mega tilt or something like that. Then, and only then, should you check back with a flopped straight.
3a. What About 3-Bet Pots In Position?
There is a deviation to this approach when talking about 3-bet pots. There will be two groups of boards with antagonistic approaches. On the one hand, you will have the high boards, and on the other hand, you will have the middling-lower boards.
On the high boards, you should always be betting with your flopped straight. You have range and nut advantage and thus a high-frequency betting strategy is optimal. Examples include:
- A♥ Q♥ on K♣ J♦ T♦
- J♣ T♣ on A♣ K♥ Q♥
On the middling-lower boards, you should often be checking back with your straight. This type of flop favors the out of position defender much more due to his range composition revolving around the middling part of the deck. You will not have either range or nut advantage on these boards despite all of the overpairs which your opponent cannot possess.
- 5♦ 4♦ on 8♣ 7♠ 6♥
- 6♣ 5♣ on 7♥ 4♦ 3♦
In 3-bet pots, it’s still easy to get your money in by the river even when you check back on the flop. So, you can benefit by having these strong hands in your checking range at some frequency.
4. How to Play a Flopped Straight Out of Position as the Preflop Raiser
We are going to have a slightly more nuanced conversation about this situation. It really matters what the flop looks like. Specifically, there are two groups: high boards and middling-low board.
On the high boards — think double broadway or triple broadway — you should absolutely bet every single time. You have a massive range and nut advantage which means you need to employ an extremely aggressive (high-frequency) betting strategy.
I’m talking about hands like:
- A♣ K♣ on Q♦ J♣ T♥
- K♠ J♠ on Q♣ T♥ 9♣
On the middling-low boards, however, you do not have either range or nut advantage. For this reason, you should employ an extremely defensive (super low-frequency) betting strategy. I would suggest a range check approach.
On these low boards, the plan here is to go for a check-raise as soon as your opponent decides to start stabbing at the pot. Do NOT go for the sneaky-donkey line of check-calling. Build the pot! Examples include:
- 4♥ 3♥ on 7♥ 6♣ 5♣
- T♣ 9♣ on 8♦ 7♥ 6♠
4a. What About 3-Bet Pots Out of Position?
When talking about 3-bet pots, there will be two groups of boards with antagonistic approaches: high boards and middling-lower boards. This is the same as the 3-bet pots when you had position over the opponent. The strategic pattern will follow the same rules.
On the high boards, you should always be betting with your flopped straight. You have range and nut advantage and thus a high-frequency betting strategy is optimal.
On the middling-lower boards, you should be checking with your straight. This type of flop favors the out of position defender much more due to his range composition revolving around the middling part of the deck. You will not have either range or nut advantage on these boards despite all of the overpairs which your opponent cannot possess.
There you have it! How to play flopped straights in a nutshell.
If you have some specific scenarios for which you would like know how you should be playing your straights please let me know in the comment section down below. Also, if you enjoyed this article or you have any other type of feedback, make sure to leave a comment down below.
Ready for more advice like this? Read How to Play Flopped Sets in 8 Common Situations.
Till next time, good luck, grinders!
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