When you play for a free card, is it?



Raising preflop from late position in hopes of convincing opponents to check on a subsequent round, is not really getting a free card, is it? You did bet more than the required amount initially and it appears to most that your efforts are rewarded with free-card status in the next betting round, thus reaching one of your objectives.

Other great reasons to raise preflop would include adding money to the pot, thinning the field, defining the strength of your hand and finding out the strength of hands that choose to call rather than reraise. So when do you use this technique?

Getting this so-called free card works to your advantage when your drawing hand is more likely to be weaker than those contesting the pot. But conversely, you do not want to give free or cheap cards when your hand is stronger than those contesting the pot. When your hand is strong, you should bet a larger portion of the pot in your attempt to eliminate players and get heads-up with a player out of position and needing help to improve.

An exception would be if you flopped a complete hand, such as a straight, flush or full house. With a made hand on the flop, you often must consider giving a free card if you can, so opponents can catch up and pay you off later in the hand. If it’s unusual for you not to make a continuation bet, then fire a small bet and build the pot, but nothing to scare them. You should consider betting from late position with a four flush, an open-ended straight draw or even a gutshot draw with two cards to come.

Or when you hit a middle pair and they still check to you. This is a classic semi-bluff situation where betting gives you two ways to win. The one place I would use caution is when your open-ended straight draw or gutshot draw is against two suited cards on the board. I’d be aware of the potential flush and proceed with caution. Bet appropriately, giving opponents minimal drawing odds.

In conclusion, play solid, aggressive poker and try these techniques when you have a good read on opponents, you have the right combination of hole cards or when you have (or can buy) the button position with your action. Use semi-bluffs as part of a winning strategy while trying to gain free cards, however, remember position is a critical factor.

— Al Spath is the former Dean at Poker School Online and his YouTube videos (Building a Bankroll at the Micro-Limits), are free to any subscriber to “Al Spath.” His TwitchTV Channel is AlSpath. Contact him at alspath@alspath.com for coaching and mentoring.

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine