News: Poker Basics – Backdoors

Once considered the domain of fishy players, draws where you need running cards to hit are now considered good candidates for bluffing.

poker basics This hand could make a backdoor straight

A backdoor draw is when a hand on the flop can make a flush or straight by the river, but requires consecutive cards to hit to do so. 

For example if you held KQ on a J36 flop you would need to hit both a T and a 9/A by the river to make a straight. 

A backdoor straight or flush draw is considerably harder to hit than a standard draw that only requires one card to come on either turn or river. As such, it is a fishy move to overcall with hands like these. 

However, the solvers have shown in recent years that backdoor hands can be powerful in Hold’em, if you play them correctly. 

Good hands to play aggressively

Backdoor draws make excellent bluffing candidates because you can hit turn cards that make for profitable bluffs, and you can hit well disguised monsters on the river. 

Despite what some poker movies might suggest, you do not want to bluff with complete air. If you can turn a straight draw after bluffing the flop, it makes a second barrel much more profitable. 

Double backdoor hands, in other words ones that can make both a straight or a flush by the river are particularly profitable to play aggressively. They even make good check/raise candidates as you will need some bluffs in your check/raising range, these are the best ones because you can bluff on several streets. 

poker basics This hand could make a backdoor flush or straight

In the example above, you can hit a lot of good cards to make a profitable bluff on the turn. The best one being either the K or Q because you could hit a straight or flush by the river. 

If you do hit your hand you will also be more likely to be paid off because it will be harder to put you on a backdoor draw, especially if you played the hand aggressively. 

You might also want to call with a backdoor draw if the bet is small relative to your stacks and your opponent is fishy and thus likely to pay off if you do hit. Generally speaking, however, backdoor draws are much better to play aggressively or not at all, because most of the time you need to take the pot down uncontested because the chances of making your hand are still slim. 

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