What is the backdoor in poker, also known as going “runner-runner”?
Let’s clear something up right away. A backdoor isn’t a wooden door that lets you enter and exit a poker room. The meaning of backdoor in poker is a special kind of draw. It means you have a draw to a strong hand combination, but you need specific turn and river cards. Your backdoor draws only “get there” if you get the right two cards after the flop.
Here’s a simple Texas Hold ‘em example:
The Board: 8♥ 9♣ K♦
Your Hand: 4♥ 3♥
With these suited hole cards and flop, you have a backdoor flush draw. If the turn and river cards are Hearts, you’ll make a flush. With one connected card on the flop, you usually have a backdoor draw. That means, one part of a straight or one part of a flush, as we saw in the example.
As you have probably sensed, backdoor draws don’t have great odds. We’re going to explain the probabilities and basic strategies in this article.
Odds of Making Backdoor Draws
There are two main kinds of backdoor draws; backdoor flush draws and backdoor straight draws. Poker players sometimes joke about having backdoor pair draws or backdoor set draws, but those are just standard draws.
Odds of Making a Backdoor Flush Draw
The math for calculating a backdoor flush draw is simple. We’re going to look at an America’s Cardroom tournament hand as our example.
The Board: 5♥ 6♣ 6♦
Your Hand: A♦ J♦
There’s a backdoor flush draw, but it’s also a backdoor nut flush draw (the best possible flush).
On the turn, you need a ♦, with ten ♦ cards left in the deck.
There are 47 cards left in the deck, with 10 ♦ cards that you want to see on the turn.
10/47 = 21.3%
So roughly 1 in 5 times, you will hit one more suited card on the turn (in this case, a ♦).
On the river, you are looking for 9 cards out of the remaining 46 in the deck.
9/46 = 19.6%
The odds are slightly worse than they were on the turn, but you’ll hit a diamond on 1 out of every 5 river cards.
There’s a 4.16% chance of making a backdoor flush draw from one suited card on the flop.
(10/47) x (9/46) = 0.0416
Odds of Making a Backdoor Straight Draw
Backdoor straight draws require one of two cards to hit on the turn.
For example, check out this America’s Cardroom tournament hand:
The Board: 8♠ A♦ 9♣
Your Hand: K♥ 7♦
On the turn, we need a 10 or a 6, to get one step closer to completing the backdoor straight draw.
We have two cards we can hit, with 4 different suits for each one, giving us a total of 8 outs.
8 outs / 47 cards remaining in the deck (8/47) = 17%
Let’s say that we hit a 10 on the turn.
The Board: 8♠ A♦ 9♣ 10♥
Your Hand: K♥ 7♦
Now we have an open-ended straight draw from 8 to 10.
On the river, we have 8 outs (8/46), meaning that we have around a 17.4% chance of hitting a 6 or Jack.
Backdoor Straight + Flush Draw at the Same Time
Sometimes you’ll have backdoor straight and flush draws at the same time. Sometimes poker players will call this a double backdoor draw.
Here’s a quick example of it:
The Board: 6♥ 8♣ A♦
Your Hand: K♣ 9♣
You get the combined probability of both draws, with some overlap. For example, some cards can help complete both draws, like the 5♣, 7♣, 10♣, or J♣. Your hand will have much more equity if you can hit one of these cards on the turn.
Any club will help your backdoor flush draw, while a 5, 7, 10, or Jack, will help your backdoor straight draw.
Use Backdoor Draw Odds in Online Poker Games
Online poker decisions will be easier, now that you know the odds of making backdoor flushes and straights. We’re going to share more helpful tips in the next section, but we have to talk about partypoker for a moment.
That means, if you’re a cash game or MTT player on a different online poker site, you could be missing out on cash every month.
Partypoker has all of the popular poker formats and a huge chunk of the global player base. You’re guaranteed to find cash game tables full of players and a busy list of tournaments for all stakes.
Useful Tips for Playing Backdoor Draws
Holding a backdoor draw can be the difference between continuing in the hand or throwing your cards into the muck. You could have a gutshot straight draw, plus a backdoor flush draw, meaning you have much more equity. You can make your straight on the turn, but also pick up more equity with a card of the right suit.
In this example from PokerStars’ live event, an opponent facing aggression decides to continue because of their backdoor flush draw.
If you were the preflop raiser, backdoor draws could make you more inclined to continue your aggression. If you complete your backdoor draw, you can bet and get value from your opponents. You might win the pot anyway if your opponent folds.
If you want to train yourself on backdoor draw strategies and gain experience, we recommend trying some freeroll tournaments. You won’t invest anything, but you’ll have the chance to win real cash and build poker experience at the same time.