How to Play to Get a Free Card in Texas Holdem

If you play poker very often you have found yourself in the situation where you have caught a piece of the flop but have not quite made your hand. You then are hoping to get a card for free but the player before you make’s a big bet and push’s you out. Sometimes you need to do something about it and take advantage of the situation by raising. The question that you ask yourself is…”is it right to raise on the flop in order to try to get a free card on the turn or river?” The raise to get a free-card is a strategy used by many players. The concept is very simple. If you have a strong drawing hand, you raise the flop that another player bets with the hope of getting a free card either on the turn or the river. By doing this, you will be paying a little in the beginning, but save yourself a bigger bet on the next round because opponents have a tendency to check to the raiser. If you hit, you will have your opponents thinking that you were just making a play for the pot and will pull more chips out of your opponents as betting will generally resume when you check on the turn.

This strategy of course isn’t foolproof or the end all philosophy. Players with a strong hand, generally the original bettor, may come back over the top of you and force you to make a decision. Also, if you happen to get the free card you were looking for on the turn, miss your card and then check, you are telling your opponents that your playing on a draw and they are now on to you and your tactics. You then have lost an opportunity to bluff at the river even though you missed. You may also drive out too many players by making a big bet which is what you don’t want to happen when you are drawing to the nuts. Having said all that, you should still employ this weapon from time to time. I just think that a lot of players use this too much or not at all. Let’s take a look at five separate hands for some examples.

In the first hand that we will look at, you are on the button with the 7d 8d. An early-position player, a middle-position player, and the cutoff limp-in. You also decide to limp in, and the small blind folds and the big blind checks. There is $16 in the pot and five players.

The flop is Kd Qh 3d, now you have a flush draw, the big blind checks. The early-position player bets $15 and the other two players call. What should you do? Here, it is good to make a raise, probably no more than doubling the $15 bet. You figure that the bettor caught a piece of the flop, possibly the King. Who knows what the other players have as they only flat called. The early-position player doesn’t figure to have AK, AQ, AA, KK or QQ due to the fact that there was no raise preflop, in knowing that you are not likely to get re-raised. Your raise is not too large to push any of the other players out of the pot as they have already invested $15. Regardless of what is next to come, you’ve taken command and they will likely check to you on the turn.

The second hand we will look at, you are in the cutoff seat with the 10s 9s. An early-position player and a middle-position player limp in. You limp in, as well as the button and the small blind and again the big blind checks. There is now $18 in the pot and six players. The flop is Qs 3s 5h, again giving you a flush draw. It is checked to the middle-position player, who bets $18. Now you need to decide what you should do. I wouldn’t suggest that you raise in this spot because there are players who have yet to act and any player left to act can easily come over the top of you with a re-raise. When you find yourself in this kind of a drawing situation, you really want bottom and middle pair to stay in and not fold because this gives you better odds if you hit your flush. Call!

In the third hand you are on the button with the Ad Js and you open with a raise. Only the big and little blind gives you action and they call. There is $150 in the pot and three players.

The flop is rainbow’ed Qc 10h 7s, giving you a gutshot straight draw with an ace overcard. Both blinds check to the raiser and you bet $50. Only the big blind calls. There is $100 in the pot and two players. The turn is the 8d, giving another gutshot straight possibility. The big blind checks to you and you ask yourself what should I do. In this instance, you absolutely MUST bet in this situation. You are heads up and in this situation and in this case, you should never give a free card without having a made your hand. If you check, you are opening yourself to a river bluff and if not your opponent may just fold knowing that you have them beat.

In the fourth hand, you are in middle position with the A 6 suited clubs and call behind two early-position callers and another player in middle-position. The small blind limps in and the big blind checks. There is $18 in the pot and a total of 6 players.

On the flop you see 5c 4h 3d, giving you an open-end straight draw plus an ace overcard. It is checked to you and again you ask yourself what should you do. I would advise that you check here. You have 5 players, all left to act if you bet, a coordinated rainbow board and 5 other callers and quite frankly, your open-ended straight draw isn’t that good because it’s a one card draw. In these situations, you can easily be outdrawn or beaten outright by a wide variety of hands. There isn’t enough money in the pot to make a play for it here. Your Ace doesn’t help because of kicker issues (meaning if you hit runner-runner, it still gives anyone holding a “2” a made straight making your hand a muck.

In the fifth and final hand…You open with a raise from middle position to $10 with the Ad 9d. Only the small blind gives you action and calls. There is $22 in the pot and only two players.

The flop is Jd 8d 5h, giving you the nut-flush draw and an ace overcard. Your opponent then checks.You bet $20 and he raises to $40 and again you ask yourself what should you do. I would seriously consider re-raising here as it is the right thing to do. You have a monster draw against only one opponent and he may be bluffing or trying to get a free card at you. He may only have a weak Jack. You have plenty of flush outs as well as your over card and you will stay in this hand until the river so your action may get you a free turn if the diamond comes.

Hopefully you find these examples helpful. Good luck and have some fun!