Five Quick Tips—How to Play a Straight

GLOBAL POKER’S
FIVE QUICK TIPS

HOW TO PLAY A STRAIGHT IN POKER

A straight is a good hand that can frequently win the pot, and although it’s relatively rare, you will see plenty of it during a typical poker session. In addition, they are one of the sneakier card combinations because it's not always obvious when someone has hit a straight. However, as with other starting hands, if not played with a certain level of aggression and caution, a straight can become a costly hand. Here are five quick tips for playing a straight.

1. BE AGRESSIVE

A straight is a good hand, but you still don’t want multiple people in the hand on the river. The more players in the pot, the greater chance of someone limping through and hitting a higher combination. Play aggressively, make a large bet, at least six times the big blind, plus an extra blind for every other player already in the hand, don’t be afraid to re-raise. The goal should be to take out all but two other players by the river; the fewer players in the round, the greater your odds of success.

2. TAKE A RISK AND SLOW PLAY

Alternatively, if you fear betting aggressively will result in a betting war that ends with going all-in, you can try to slow play. However, keep in mind that this strategy could allow other players to hit a better hand as the game continues. Appear weak by making only small wagers, checking, and calling other bets, then on the river, double the current wager, re-raise or go all-in if necessary.

3. BE FLEXIBLE AND KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN

Most of the time, you won't flop a straight; it will be the turn or river when you hit the cards you need. It will come down to the individual circumstances, but you need to judge for yourself if forming a straight is the best course of action to win the pot. If it's clear your odds of forming a straight are small, or there is a better chance of creating another hand, you may need to adjust your strategy. Don't get attached to the idea of getting a straight just because you have four pieces; the goal is to win; it doesn't matter how you achieve that, whether it's with a straight or bluffing with a pair of 2s.

4. END THE GAME ON THE FLOP

If you do get lucky and flop a straight with an already sizable pot, make a massive wager, and try to end the game immediately. A bet ten times the current big bind, plus an extra one for every other person in the hand should scare away all but the staunchest of opponents. If someone does decide to call or re-raise, you may need to consider an all-in.

5. WATCH OUT FOR HIGHER STRAIGHTS

Just because there is no noticeable flush, full house, or higher hand on the board doesn't mean you're out of the woods. If you hold a 2, 3, and there is a 4, 5, 6, 7 on the board, there is a very real chance an opponent could have a sneaky 8, making a higher straight. Watch the game and look for tells. After you hit your straight, keep an eye on opponents, how they bet, their demeanor and how they play the game. You might get lucky and pick up a crucial detail that reveals if there is a larger straight lurking somewhere.