When I first started playing NL Hold’em, one thing that regularly used to frustrate me was when a person moved all-in with a draw against me when I had top pair or two pair, and then they hit. I used to always wonder why they would go in on such a hand, but then as I gained experience and grew to have a better understanding of odds, it became clear to me why people would do this.
First, you have to look at a player’s hand odds when they flop a flush. With just a flush draw, the player has nine outs. On the flop, they have a 38% chance to hit their hand. While 38% does not seem like a lot, you are looking at 4 times out of 10 in hitting your hand. Next, let’s consider whether the player has anything else to go with that draw. If they have a pair with a flush draw, this can change things drastically. If they are facing a single pair that does not match their kicker, they could feasibly have 14 outs. On a flop with 14 out, your opponent would have a 56% percent chance to hit their hand. At this point they are flipping for their tournament life.
While pushing with a flush draw is a bit of a gamble play, in some cases it is a controlled gamble. In other situations, it may be the best play. If your stack is short enough, you will have pot odds to make the shove. If you are playing in the early stages of a tournament, especially in a re-buy event, this gamble play may be a great way to build some chips. And of course, this type of play will do wonders for your image. Pushing with your flush draw will make you seem very loose, even if you have the odds to do so. Players may be more apt to play back at you when you have the nuts, and that is never a bad thing.
So the next time a player shoves on your with a flush draw and hits, evaluate the situation before just discounting them as a bad player. You may find that it was a good move. Of course, it is never fun to have your top pair, two pair, or even a set flushed out on the river, but it is a part of the game.