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Any flush is consistently a winning hand when only three suited cards are on the board. Let’s say you hold Q♦-K, and you get the flop shown in the figure below:

You have a good draw, but not the best draw.

This is a very good draw for you in one way, but it’s also a vulnerable holding. Four ways in which your Q♦-K can be beaten come to mind immediately. First, someone could have A♦-x, which means you’re basically out of luck unless a King or Queen comes and you also dodge an Ace. Second, a player may have played small suited connectors such as 5♥-6, which means you will now need to catch your flush to win the pot. It is impossible for you to make either a straight or a full house, so you’re shooting for one of the nine remaining diamonds in the deck, which is a little bit more than a 5:1 disadvantage for you on each of the turn and the river.

A third way in which you are endangered is if someone plays what is known as “Ax.” A, in this context, represents an Ace, and you’ll recall that an “x” means any card under a Ten. In low-limit Poker Hold’em, it is very common for someone to play Ace-anything. It’s what’s known as Aces and spaces and puts the player at a huge disadvantage, but that doesn’t stop them. A-5 or A-6 unsuited is particularly dangerous hands for you, as they give the holder a double gut shot straight draw. In this example, either a 2 or a 6 for the A5 and a 2 or a 5 for the A6 will give them a straight. In this case, they are not drawing to the nuts (neither are you, technically, since you don’t have the Ace, but compared to them you are), but they do have six outs to beat you. Do you know why it’s six and not eight outs? That’s right, it’s because one of each card is a diamond, which would make your flush, assuming your opponent is not holding a diamond.

Finally, someone could have a set. It’s unlikely someone would have two pair because Threes, Fours, and Sevens don’t play well. (One exception: Beware of someone who plays any two suited cards; they have an annoying habit of flopping two pair. It drives you crazy, it really does.) Low pairs, like Threes and Fours, are usually only good after the flop if they catch a set, but a pair of Sevens is a very different story. Phil Hellmuth, for example, puts pocket Sevens as one of his must-play hands for beginners, based on the success he’s seen them have over his years of playing. If someone has a set, they can make quads by catching the case (sole remaining) card they made a set with, or the board can pair another board card on the turn or on the river, which is six, and then nine, chances for the three of a kind to fill up.


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