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Paying for a “Free” card

Sick of bad, over aggressive players always raising with flush and straight draws only to hit them on the river and take more of your money? Perhaps they’re outplaying you…

Position is one of the most important aspects in limit holdem, probably more important than the cards you hold. Being last to act, seeing what each of your opponents does before you have to decide, is a huge advantage. One of the most common moves using position is the ‘free card.’

This play works best if you are last to act, on the button or ‘bought the button’ in the pre-flop action. You call a raise with 6[hearts]7[hearts] on the button and 3 other players take the flop of:

Q[hearts]9[hearts]5[spades]

Now this is a slightly exaggerated situation, here you have a gut-shot straight draw and a flush draw, but you could make this move with a flush draw, open-ended straight draw, and obviously with both.

Let’s assume a standard $2/$4 game. The BB checks, the preflop raiser bets, and the man in middle position calls. Here is where you should raise. Make it $4 to go on the flop. The BB folds, and the pre-flop raiser calls, as does the middle position caller. Now the turn card falls:

Q[hearts]9[hearts]5[spades] … 2[clubs]

The blank of all blanks, but because of your raise on the flop and taking control of the hand, the hope is that it will come check, check to you. Here you can either decide to bet out again if you sense weakness, or check and take the Free Card! Da DA! Now it wasn’t really ‘free’, it cost you an extra bet on the flop, but since the limits increase on the turn you saved a whopping $2. Even better, suppose the turn comes:

Q[hearts]9[hearts]5[spades] … 2[hearts]

Now they check to you again, and you bet. It will be harder to put you on the flush since by your flop raise it could look like you had J[spades]10[diamonds] or even something like Q[diamonds]K[spades] and they will pay you off for two more bets of $4 a piece.

And in the case of missing the turn and hitting the river, there is a good chance the preflop raiser will lead out again on the river after sensing your weakness. Then, depending on the previous caller, you could make an addtion $4.

So although you know you are behind on the flop with just a draw, it is probably the best play you can make, and will actually save you money!

Good luck on the felt!

Good luck on the felt!

I've been playing poker for almost four years now (well before it was legal for me, woops!) Besides poker I enjoy playing the guitar and I'm very enthusiastic about pursuing Dentistry as a career. I'm currently at The Ohio State Univeristy studying Microbiology, living with three of my close friends. I'm dating a lovely girl from Australia and am looking forward to the oppurtunity to study abroad over there as well.

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