gutshot straight draw strategy tips

3 Tips for Winning with Gutshot Straight Draws

If you’ve ever been unsure of what to do with a gutshot straight draw, you’ve found the right article.

Today you’ll learn 3 tips that will help you decide when to bet and when to check so you can start earning more money when you hold this type of draw. But first…

What is a Gutshot Straight Draw?

A gutshot straight draw is a drawing hand that needs a specific card rank to come to hit a straight. For example, if you hold 9♠ 8♠ and the flop comes J♣ Q 4 , you have a gutshot straight draw — a ten and a ten only would give you a straight.

If you have a gutshot on the flop, you have an 8.5% chance of making a straight on the turn and a 16.5% chance of making a straight by the river.

Gutshots are less popularly referred to as inside straight draws, middle-pin straight draws, and bellybuster straight draws.

3 Tips for Winning with Gutshot Straight Draws

1. When both of your cards are below the middle card on the flop, check.

Example: 6 5 on Q 9♠ 8.

This type of gutshot is very weak and should be played as such. Not only is the card you need unlikely to come (like all gutshots), that same card may give your opponent a higher straight, which may lead to you lose a lot of chips.

If you have another draw to go with your weak gutshot, however, it may be strong enough to semi-bluff with. Having a flush draw as well is ideal, but even a backdoor flush draw will oftentimes do the trick.

Having a backdoor flush draw means you will turn a strong combo draw or better about 26% of the time on the turn. You will have 9 outs (18%) of turning a flush draw — which will often allow you to continue bluffing — and 4 outs to turn a straight (8.5%). As you can see, these are much better odds than holding a weak gutshot with no flush potential.

Example Analysis

You raise in the cutoff with 6 5, the button calls, and the flop comes Q 9♠ 8. All of your outs are tainted because higher straights are already possible, and the 7 is especially tricky since it also completes the flush draw. Your hand is far too weak to bet, thus you check with it. Don’t lose hope yet though — you may be able to bluff on the turn or river if your opponent shows weakness.

Now, imagine you raise in the cutoff and get called by the button again, but this time you hold T♠ 9♠ on a flop of A♠ Q 8♣. Your hand needs exactly a Jack for a straight, but you also have the help of your backdoor flush draw which has 9 outs to become a flush draw. This gutshot is an easy c-bet and you should look to continue betting on most turns.

Note: Do not play another hand without this $7 Postflop Playbook! With such a low price tag, Doug Polk’s Postflop Playbook is a no-brainer buy if you want to nail down your fundamentals and build a bigger bankroll. Level-up your poker skills now!

2. You don’t always have to keep betting on the turn after betting on the flop.

Example: Q T♠ on K 9♠ 8, turn 5♠.

After betting on the flop with a gutshot, you should only sometimes continue betting on the turn. Checking with some of the less effective gutshot bluffs will help you avoid over-bluffing and make you more unpredictable in your opponent’s eyes.

You still may get a chance to hit your straight on the river, and if you do, your opponent usually will not expect it. This disguised nature of your straight will make your opponent more likely to pay you off. Plus, even if you don’t hit, you may get a chance to take the pot down on the river with a bluff.

Example Analysis

You raise on the button with Q T♠ and a player named Pete calls in the big blind. The flop comes K 9♠ 8, Pete checks, you bet, Pete calls, and the turn comes a 5♠.

You do NOT have to continue bluffing here. When you have so many better draws in your range (open-ended straight draws and flush draws), you shouldn’t bluff with all of the gutshots unless you think Pete will fold way too often. 

Advanced tactic: You can randomize your play by betting when you have a gutshot with a flush draw blocker, like a heart in this case. (Having a heart makes it slightly more likely Pete will fold, here.)

3. When you are out of position in multiway pots, play very passively and prepare to fold.

Example: T♠ 8♠ on Q 9 5 with 3 players in the hand.

Being in a multiway pot devalues all of your holdings. This includes gutshots, which go from a pretty marginal bluffing hand to a hand you should just check and give-up with.

You can, however, consider check-calling if one of these factors is at play:

  • Your gutshot has one or two overcards to the board.
  • You have a backdoor flush draw.
  • 3 players are in the hand (as opposed to 4, 5, or 6 players).
  • Your gutshot is drawing to the nuts.

Remember that most of a gutshot’s value comes from the times you force your opponent to fold, which means they are much stronger in heads-up pots than they are in multiway pots.

Example Analysis

You raise from middle position with T♠ 8♠ and get called by the button and the big blind call. The flop comes Q 9 5.

You should just check and fold in this spot. The button has a much stronger range than you and the big blind’s range contains many hands that can continue. If you bet and get called, you will only be happy to see one of the 3 Jacks that aren’t a diamond on the turn. Meanwhile, there are a huge number of bad turns. So, checking and hoping to see another card for free is the best play.

Final Thoughts on Gutshot Straight Draws

Playing gutshots is not that hard as long as you remember that you are not forced to always bet with it. It’s generally a pretty weak semi-bluff that needs some extra incentive in order to become profitable. This can be an overcard, a backdoor flush draw or just being in position.

That’s all for today! Take these tips to heart and start winning more pots with your gutshots. If you have any questions or feedback, please use the comment section down below.

If you want to keep reading, check out our guide to semi-bluffing.

Til’ next time, good luck, grinders!

Note: Do not play another hand without this $7 Postflop Playbook! With such a low price tag, Doug Polk’s Postflop Playbook is a no-brainer buy if you want to nail down your fundamentals and build a bigger bankroll. Level-up your poker skills now!


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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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