I remember when my roommate in a student dorm was telling me that I should call a huge turn bet as I could hit a straight. But I knew this is not an ordinary straight draw. I only had four outs to hit the nuts on the river, so I made an easy fold to my roommate’s disbelief.
You can call it a gut shot, gutshot, belly buster, inside straight or an inside straight draw. It all means the same. Many newer players think they are quite likely to hit a straight if they gave a gutshot straight draw, but is that the case?
What is a gutshot straight in poker? By definition, a gutshot straight or as some people call it, an inside straight, is a straight hit by only having at max 4 outs to hit a straight. The card that needs to hit needs to complete a straight, and it can’t be the top or the bottom card in a straight combination. A simple example is having a combination of T8JQ and hitting 9 on the river. Or AKQT and J on the river.
We can either use just one, or both, or none of the cards from our hand. As long as it satisfies the criteria in the definition, it’s a gutshot straight.
11 Examples of a gutshot straight in poker
Using only 1 of cards in your hand and 4 community cards.
This straight will not make you vast amounts of money, as it is often an action stopper.
Let’s look at a few examples, and for the simplicity sake, all of the flops will be rainbow, with no flush or flush draw possible.
Gutshot straight by using one card in between 4 community cards:
- You have A7 on 89J. If the T hits, then you have the lowest gutshot straight possible. This is as strong as A8 in hand below, and you should be very careful if you face a lot of action. You can bet on the river, but give up on any substantial action.
- You hold A8, and the board is 79J. Every ten will give you a gutshot straight, but there will also be a higher straight possible. You will have 3rd nuts, and KQ and Q8 will beat you with a higher straight. Don’t get me wrong. You should still bet or go for a check/call here. You just can’t withstand a lot of pressure. If you get reraised or are facing a huge bet, it will be likely you are beaten.
- AT on 79J board. Now every 8 will give you a gutshot straight. And once you hit a gutshot straight, you will have 2nd nuts. QT will still beat you. This is already a better scenario as the hand above, but still not great. If you hit your gutshot, an opponent won’t be willing to pay much, as the board will look scary to him. And the times he has a higher straight, you need to fold to a lot of action.
Gutshot straight by using 1 of your cards at the top of straight combination and 4 community cards:
- This time we have AJ on 79T board. This is a better scenario. When 8 hits, we will have 2nd nuts. But this time, a lower straight could call our bet. If someone has a 6, we will often get at least one bet from him. The moment we are facing a lot of action, we still need to give up. Now someone having QJ has the nuts, but it does help we are blocking one J, so they are slightly less likely to have it. If we would hold pocket Jacks in this situation, this is, of course, even better for us. As now we block 2 straight outs ourselves, so opponents calling as are more likely to have either a baby straight with a 6789T combination or a set or maybe two pairs.
Using both cards in our hand and 3 community cards
Like in examples above, here it also matters what kind of gutshot straight we hit. Some are low, some more powerful, and will make money, while with others, you can lose money if not careful.
2 cards from our hand are the lowest in the gutshot straight combination:
- We have 67, and the board is 9Tx (x being some low irrelevant hand). Now an 8 will give us a straight. Even though it is the smallest possible straight, it is not a huge action stopper. We can value bet this kind of straight for all 3 streets, even though we have the 3rd nuts. 7J and QJ beat us.
But there is one huge difference here. We can now value bet against many more 2 pairs and sets and drawing hands that will call our bets on multiple streets. That is why this gutshot straight is far better, and you will make substantial money with it. Against reraises, after you hit a straight, you probably still need to fold, but now it becomes already opponent dependant.
Aggressive players could be reraising here with just a good draw or a set or even two pairs.
1 card from our hand is the lowest in gutshot straight combination, while the other card from our hand is somewhere in between community cards we use:
- An excellent example of this is having 68 on the button, and the board is 7Tx. Every 9 will complete gutshot straight for us. This straight is better than in the previous example. If we hit it, we have nicely disguised straight. Especially if we made the continuation bet on the flop and got called, then there are not many 8J combinations that would call our bet on the flop. The majority of those would fold. So even though J8 beats us and we have 2nd nuts, our hand here is powerful. I am willing to stack off with this hand because I know opponents will be stacking off with their set, combo draws, and maybe top two pairs on such board.
- 69 on 7Tx. A similar example as with 68 hand above. Nicely disguised gutshot straight that will make us a lot of money. Opponents are slightly more likely to call J9 than J8 on the flop but still not often enough to be concerned.
1 card from hand in between community cards or at the bottom and another card from hand at the top of gutshot straight combination:
- 6T on 79x. Hitting 8 here is okay but not perfect. Players will be quite likely to call our bets with JT, as 2 overcards and gutshot is a strong enough hand to continue and see another street. Some may even reraise our bet with such holding.
- 7T on 69x. Our gutshot straight the nut straight here when 8 hits. Many hands will be willing to continue as they will have some sort of draw. So this is an excellent moneymaker gutshot straight.
2 cards from our hand are used at the top of gutshot straight combination
- TJ on 79x board. Not only we have 2 overcards to improve our hand, but we also have a gutshot straight draw to the nuts. When 8 hits, we hold the nuts and will get paid off handsomely against lower gutshot straights.
Because of the 2 overcards that could also be good outs for us to win the hand, this type of gutshot draw is a lot stronger than other gutshot draw combinations.
Using only community cards to hit a gutshot straight
This is not the prettiest hand and will result in a split pot if nobody holds a better hand. It still counts as a gutshot straight if it fulfills the definition criteria. It merely means that there was a gutshot straight draw possible on the turn and on the river, gutshot straight was filled.
For that, all of the 5 community cards (cards on the board) were used. In Texas Holdem, this is a valid combination, unlike in PLO, where you need to use exactly 2 of your cards from the hand.
- An example of this is the board being 67T, and turn brings a 9 and river an 8. Noone of the players involved in the hand has a better card combination than straight from 6 to T, so it is a split pot for everyone involved in the hand.
What is a straight in poker?
Straight is a powerful hand combination in Texas Holdem. It qualifies when you can collect a combination of 5 consecutive cards from A2345 to AKQJT. Higher straight is worth more than lower straight. Because a straight is such a powerful rank in poker, you will be printing money with it.
Even though it might be evident that you have a straight by the strength you show and big bets you make, you will still get paid off by opponents’ decent hands. Your winrate will be lower than by hitting a flush, but still huge compared to when you hold a weaker holding that the straight.
Many players think that hitting a flush is easier than a straight, but looking at the math, this is not the case, although sometimes it certainly feels like it. More on that in this article.
What are the odds of filling an inside straight?
Odds of filling an inside straight depends on how many outs you have to hit a straight. The maximum number of outs you can have is 4. With 4 outs on the flop to hit straight by the river, you have about 18% chance to hit a straight. Each out gives you a little more than 4%.
If you only want to know the odds to hit inside straight from one street to another, so from flop to turn or from turn to the river, then those odds get halved. So now the inside straight will hit about 9% of the time.
This is only the case if nobody is blocking your outs, another term used for this is if your outs are clean and none of the cards that you need are dead.
With such low odds to hit your draw, you shouldn’t be calling bets from opponents. It will cost you money as you will miss far more often than hit. That 1 in 11 chance to hit your straight is not enough. To call or raise a bet, you need to have something else to go along with — either a pair or maybe a flush draw.
If you see an opponent calling with just a gutshot draw, then make a note, and you will know he is a weak player that you can exploit next time by value betting harder, as he has a hard time folding his weak hands.
What are the odds of hitting an open-ended straight draw?
With the open-ended straight draw, you now have more odds to hit than in the gutshot straight draw. You have double the odds. Either hitting a card of bottom or at the top of your card combination gives you a straight now.
Often you will have around 32% to win from flop to river and 18% from one street to another, depending on blockers and the opponent’s hand.
While gutshot straight draw is not strong enough to make a call on his own, the open-ended straight draw can be good enough. You can also consider reraising and applying pressure to get some fold equity.
Now you know what a gutshot straight is in poker. I showed you many examples. Just remember that gutshot straight doesn’t happen so often. The majority of the time occurs when you make a continuation bet try to get a fold from an opponent. Or if you already hold some pair and are just value betting, but your hand improves by filling a gutshot.