How Strong Can You Play a Small Flush?

Posted by Dan in Poker Strategy on July 28, 2009

This is a hand that has killed plenty of stacks, most recently at the WSOP Main Event.  The hand in question has one player sitting on a 35d and the other sitting on QJd.  The board hit all diamonds and the smaller flush led out and ended up getting his whole stack in with the second best.  No big deal, only a few million dollars lost on a 5 high flush!

Players tend to get tunnel vision the moment that their hands hit and pay little attention to anything else.  Now this was a notable pro player at one of the most prestigious poker tournaments in the world and he never thought for a second that he was second best. This is proof that it can happen to anyone.


This is something that will also happen with high pairs or when someone hits the high portion of the board with a card.  For instance, you are sitting on K9s and a K hits the board along with two babies.  You lead out and someone comes over top of you and you immediately push.  What makes you think that a 9 kicker is going to hold up?  Even if you are ahead at that moment, more than likely it is a bad play to commit your stack with that type of hand.

The same can be said for the small flush.  Even when the odds are slim that the other player also has a flush, it is pretty safe to assume that they are on a massive draw and if another card hits, you are dead and your chips gets shuffled across the table.  There is no worse feeling than seeing the aftermath and asking yourself, “What the hell was I thinking?”


There is a time and a place to make a stand and a baby flush is not it.  If you are going to make a play, you are much better off waiting until the river anyway.  At this point, you can get a better read on your opponent and pretty much know if they were going after the draw of if they had the same flush as you did, only stronger.

This also gives you the ability to still get out of the hand with relatively little damage to your stack.  If you are leading out, you can do so with smaller bets that won’t cripple you if you end up losing.  You can still make a move on the hand on the river with a healthy raise, but if they come over top of you, you can be pretty sure that they are not just bluffing.

The problem when you get aggressive early in a hand like this is that any draw will come right back at you.  You are then faced with the decision to give someone two more cards and hope that your baby flush holds up or worse, have the cards turned and realize that you are drawing dead.  There is always as time to make a stand, but choose a better hand.

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