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What is the “Gutshot” in Poker? Everything You Need to Know

Posted on 14.07.2023 Posted Under: Resources

Poker is an exhilarating card game. Over time, it has evolved and gained rich layers of complexity, strategy, and terminology. One such term, the “Gutshot”, plays an important role in the game. But what exactly is it? This article offers a comprehensive exploration of the term, its applications, and strategic implications.

Understanding Poker Terminology: Defining “Gutshot”

The term “Gutshot”, also known as an “inside straight draw” or “belly buster”, refers to a specific scenario in the game of poker. It occurs when a player needs one card (and only one) to complete a straight. However, the card needed isn’t at either end of the sequence; it’s right in the middle, thus the term “gutshot”.

For example, if a player holds a 7 and 8 in their hand, and the community cards are 5, 6, and 10, the player has a gutshot straight draw. They need a 9 (an ‘inside’ card) to complete the straight.

Deciphering the Probability: Chances of Landing a “Gutshot”

In poker, understanding odds and probabilities is crucial. In the case of a gutshot straight draw, there are 4 cards in the deck (four 9s in our example) that could complete the straight. With a standard 52-card deck, you can calculate the odds of landing a gutshot as follows:

  1. After the flop (when there are 47 unseen cards), the chances of hitting a gutshot on the turn are approximately 8.5% (4 out of 47).
  2. The chances of hitting a gutshot on the river, given that it wasn’t hit on the turn, are roughly 8.7% (4 out of 46).

While these odds may seem low, the potential high return of a straight often justifies the risk, making understanding and playing gutshots a vital part of advanced poker strategy.

Gutshot Strategy: To Play or Not to Play

The gutshot presents a dilemma: should you pursue a relatively low-probability draw? The answer lies in a nuanced evaluation of the game’s situation. Consider factors such as your position, the bet sizes, the number of players, and the playing style of your opponents.

It’s often better to pursue a gutshot in later positions in the betting order, allowing you to make informed decisions based on the actions of players who bet before you. If the pot odds justify the call, it’s worth considering the gutshot draw.

Gutshot and Pot Odds: A Strategic Intersection

Pot odds are an important consideration in deciding whether to chase a gutshot. Pot odds compare the current size of the pot to the cost of a contemplated call. If your potential earnings outweigh the risk, it makes sense to chase the gutshot.

Gutshot: A Tool for Bluffing

Gutshots can be a powerful bluffing tool. If you’re playing against conservative opponents who are likely to fold, you could aggressively bet or raise to represent a stronger hand and scare off your opponents, turning a gutshot draw into a winning bluff.

Understanding Implied Odds: Betting on the Future

Alongside pot odds, implied odds play a significant role in gutshot strategy. This concept takes into account the additional bets that you can win in future rounds of betting if you hit your draw. With high implied odds, even a risky gutshot can turn into a profitable play.

The Role of Gutshots in Advanced Strategy

In the grand scheme of poker strategy, gutshots represent a small, yet intricate piece of the puzzle. Understanding them provides players an advantage, offering more avenues to win.

Balancing Risk and Reward with Gutshots

With gutshots, there’s a fine line between a calculated risk and reckless play. While it can be tempting to chase a gutshot for the high reward of a straight, it’s important to base your decisions on solid poker fundamentals: pot odds, implied odds, your position, and your read on other players.

Gutshot: A Testament to Poker’s Depth

Ultimately, the concept of the gutshot straight draw highlights the depth and complexity that make poker such a compelling game. The interplay of chance, strategy, and psychological warfare is at the heart of poker, and the gutshot sits at the intersection of these elements, offering opportunities for skillful play and dramatic turnarounds.


Understanding what a “Gutshot” is in poker involves more than simply knowing its definition. It requires comprehension of the game’s intricacies, understanding the odds, the strategies involved, and the risk-reward balance that must be maintained. With its inherent risks and rewards, the gutshot is a testament to the beautiful complexity of poker. It’s a part of the game that invites strategy, daring, and above all, a deep understanding of poker’s many facets. Mastering the gutshot can elevate your game, and add another tool to your poker arsenal.