Third Street

Playing Three Flushes

Another set of quality starting hands are the three-flushes, and not all three-flushes are the same. Some are virtually always playable, while others should usually be discarded. A few can be played very aggressively, while others can be played only if the cost is kept to a minimum. Some three-flushes they well heads-up, while most prefer a crowd. As you can see, correct poker stratagie for three-flushes is quite varied.

To begin with, there are four things to consider in determining how and whether you play your starting three-flush.

They are:
1. What your position is.
2. What your door card is.
3. How many of your cards are out.
4. How high your cards are.

What seems to be small differences in these four parameters can greatly impact the approach to playing these hands. For instances, if you have a three-flush and none of your suit is out, your hand is almost always playable, unless you have three small cards and it is three bets to you, or two high cards raise and reraise.

Here’s an example. Suppose you hold


and no other clubs are showing. This hand is usually playable, unless one of the two exceptions just mentioned is applicable.

If three or more of your suit are not, your three-flush is just about always unplayable. Exceptions are if the hand can be played as an ante steal, or if it has value other than the three-flush aspect, such as a possible straight draw or high cards.

Here’s an example of a totally worthless hand. Suppose you have


and there are three diamonds, as well as a ten and a five, out. This had is virtually always unplayable.

If in the above case two of your suit were out but no tens, fives, or deuces, the hand becomes barely playable as long as it doesn’t cost too much. However, the hand is unplayable if you think you may be heads-up against a high pair.

In fact, even if your cards are completely live, if you are heads-up against a raiser and your three-flush contain all small cards, you might want to fold, especially if you are against a good player. But if the raiser may not have anything, it is clearly at least a call.

Thus,if you hold the T 52 and you are going to be heads-up against a raiser with a probable large pair, your hand is generally not worth playing. This is true even if your flush draw and pair cards are live. On the other hand, even if almost all the tens, fives, and deuces are gone, but your fulsh cards are completely live, you usually should play in a multiway pot.

If you are the first one in and you have a three-flush with a high card showing, then you should usually, but not always, enter the pot with a raise. This is true even if there is one higher card still to act behind you as this allows you to mix up your three-flushes with your high-pair raises, creating some deception in your play. If you do have the highest card on board, it is unlikely that you will be reraised.

Next, suppose you hold a big streight flush draw, such as:


You probably want to raise so that you can narrow the field in case you make a high pair. But if you don’t raise, or if you can’t thin the field, having a lot of opponents when you hold this hand is also good. When you have a high three-flush with straight potential and you are the first one in, normally raise only if there is no more than one card higher behind you. With a small three-card straight flush, however, you should not raise unless a few players are already in.

If you have a three-flush with one card higher than the raiser’s doord card, then you should always at least call, unless your hand is not very live. This is true even if you are fairly sure that you will be heads-up against a probable big pair.

If you have a three-flush, and two big cards ahead of you raise and raraise, you can play only if you have at least one card higher than the two big cards. Here’s an example. Suppose a ten raises, a queen reraises, and you have:


Since you hold a king, go ahead and play as long as your cards are live. If there is just a raise and a call, then you can play any three-flush if your cards are live. However, if your three-flush is small and two of your suit are out, you usually should throw your hand away. To play a three-flush with two of your suit elsewhere on the board usually requires big cards. Sometimes it is correct to raise with your three-flush even when you cannot steal the aents. For instance, suppose someone has just called the bring-in. If you have two overcards and at least a medium card up, you can raise. The reason for raising is that if you pair one of your overcards, you would prefer to be heads-up. It may even be right to raise with just one ovrcard, particularly if it is an ace or a king. (There will be more discussion on this later in the text.) Here’s an example. Suppose you have


and someone has limped in with a ten up. You probably want to raise. If the Q was a small heart instead, it still might be correct to raise in an attempt to get heads-up.

If someone has already raised, you have two overcards, and one of them is up, you can go ahead and reraise. This is particularly valid if you think your obbonent may not have what he is representing, or if he is the type of poker player who can throw a pair away. It might still be okay to make this play when both overcards are in the hole or when you have only one overcard, as long as it is either an ace or a king.