Chasing Flush Draws in Online Poker

What do you do when your opponent is chasing a flush draw? Conventional wisdom says that you simply do not give him the proper odds to make the call. In other words, If you make a big that is big enough relative to the pot size and what it would take for him to call, he ‘cannot’ call because he is not getting good enough odds on his money. For example, he has a 1:4 chance of hitting his flush but is only getting 2:1 on his money. He should fold. But he won’t.

As part of the online phenomenon, not only do you have about a billion players player NL Hold’em who only have a cursory knowledge of the game, you have about a billion players who will chase ANY flush draw at ANY time, no matter the cost. That’s a great thing right? Those of us who understand pot odds, etc can really take advantage of these players, right?

The answer is yes, sometimes, but no at other times. How many times have you had Aces up only to be flushed out on the River? How many times has your set been beaten when you couldn’t shake a player on a flush draw? If you play a lot of online poker, the answer to this question is probably a lot. So, if you are up against flush chasers, I suggest a different strategy for most online games, particularly lower level games.

First, you need to become adept at identifying flush chasers. Watch for them, make bets that allow you to see the pattern in how they react. When you bet the pot on the flop and there are 2 suited cards on board, do they call? If so, probably a flush chaser. After that call, do they call a significant Turn bet? If so, probably a flush chaser. A real player will raise in one of these 2 situations, a flush chaser just wants to see another card. How about when the 3rd suited card hits the River and the action is to them? Most of the time flush chasers get so excited when their flush hits on the River that they bet and bet big. Very seldom do you find a player who is disciplined enough to check after he chased down a flush with improper odds.

So, what do you do with these guys? You can’t drive them out. If they hit on the Turn or River they will take your chip stack if you over bet. (I am talking primarily tournament play for this example) What you need to do is control the pot. I know that sounds like you are pricing them in. And you are. What this strategy really depends on is whether or not you got a proper read on the player as a flush chaser. Maybe you saw him call off all his chips on a flush draw on a previous hand. If so, you know he will do the same to you.

Instead of risking all your chips and your tournament life, limit the pot you are playing for. Sure, you won’t score as big when he misses his flush, but you limit your loss when the lucky SOB hits it on the River. Again, this is an online strategy and one that you will not use all the time, but in lower limit games, it can keep you in a tournament and keep you from throwing your computer out the window.