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Buying a Free Card

Poker Strategy: Buying a Free Card
By Loki Luchs of

Youíre sitting in a full-ring cash game with deep stacks. Youíre holding a small suited connecter and your opponent has been a playing a pretty solid game. You flop heavy: a flush draw and an inside straight draw. You put the opponent on an over-pair or top pair as he fires out a pot sized bet. Youíre both deep stacked, but you have position. Do you call or fold? In many cases, depending on your logic, you can say either one. Pot odds justify a call, but depending on your opponent, you may find that youíre not willing to face another pot-sized bet on the turn if you donít get there. Too many players calculate pot odds on the flop, when they should really be wondering about implied odds. The pot-odds are going to change by the turn because your odds are predicated on seeing BOTH of the cards still to come. If you only intend on seeing the turn, you CANíT calculate the pot-odds for both cards to come! You need to keep in mind that a good opponent, who tends to bet the pot will be making another pot-sized bet on the turn!

There is another option, however; what if you were to get to see for a discount? If you were to pay the same amount for both pot-sized bets, you might be able to ensure that you are getting the right pot-odds. What if, instead of folding or calling, you raised? Think about what you normally do when you get raised out of position; you probably check to the raiser on the next action! Your opponent will most likely do the same! Your opponent is likely to only flat call for a couple of reasons:


1. He doesnít want to re-raise without a very strong hand here. He is out of position and will only get called by better hands. Since youíve shown strength, he has to show caution here.

2. Many players donít raise while on a draw because theyíre afraid that they may lose control of the size of the pot. They donít want to commit their opponent to more drastic measures when the pot gets too big.

3. If you face an all-in, you might have to muck it if the pot-odds donít justify a call.

Now, you donít have a hand, but your raise will throw your opponent off guard! He knows heís playing against a (hopefully) good opponent who has a deep stack and position, so he will show caution. While itís probably too small of a raise to normally fold to, you might even scare off an opponent that was on a continuation bet and was only trying to pick up the pot.

How big of a raise are we talking? Well, I like the minimum or minimum + 50% raise because it keeps down your obligation to the pot. Some players like to try to steal the pot with a big raise, but if your opponent calls, he will probably either re-raise all in or lead with a big bet on the turn. Suddenly youíre on a draw with one card to come and you still have only a 6 high. By giving a small raise, you give your opponent a reason to check, but no good reason to feel that he needs to make a huge over-bet to protect his hand.

When your opponent checks to you on the turn, you can either bet if you made a hand or check behind if you missed. When you do make your hand on the turn, your opponent may think that youíre afraid of the straight or the flush and bet into you. If they still have a strong hand, they may not put you on a better one because of the raise and might pay you off.

Raising your draws in position will make it easier to see the later stages of the hand. Youíre using a combination of psychology and intimidation to confuse an opponent about where they are in the hand. Being in the red or black can be the difference of the money you wasted chasing draws! It will increase your wins when you hit and limit your losses when you donít; just remember to pay for a free card!


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