Progress Publishing Co.

Free Card Strategy in Texas Holdem Poker


HOME Craps Home Slots Home Cards Gambling History Monte Carlo
Roulette History Roulette Rules Roulette Systems Baccarat History Baccarat Rules Baccarat Systems
Keno History Keno Rules Keno Play Blackjack History Blackjack Rules Basic Strategy
Expectations Card Counting Efficiency Betting Spread Shoe Penetration New Blackjack
Bingo History Bingo Basics Bingo Rules Bingo Games Bingo Odds Lottery History
Horse Racing History Horse Racing Types Horse Races Horse Racing Betting Handicapping Horse Racing Glossary
Horse Racing Rules Greyhound History Greyhound Betting Greyhound Program Dog Handicapping Greyhound Grading
Greyhound Rules Greyhound Glossary Jai Alai History Jai Alai Rules Jai Alai Betting  Jai Alai Glossary
Football History Football Point Spread Football Handicapping Football Betting Football Rules Football Glossary
Poker History Poker Betting Poker Outs Poker Pot Odds Poker Position Poker Free Card Strategy
Poker Overcards Poker Overpair Holdem Poker Rules Holdem Poker Glossary Hole Card ORDER


   cndl_grn4_md_blk.gif (2968 bytes)   BookBlack3D.gif (7788 bytes) cndl_grn4_md_blk.gif (2968 bytes)

Free card strategy in Texas Holdem poker


What a free card is in Texas Holdem Poker

The benefits of the free card strategy

The risk associated with the free card strategy

How to use the free card strategy correctly


What a free card is in Texas Holdem Poker

When a poker player can see the next card on the board without paying (because everybody has checked) he gets a “free” card. Many players in late position try to get a free card on the turn to see the river for free by utilizing simple free card strategy. This strategy consists of raising the flop in hope that on the turn the rest of the players will check to the raiser. That is what exactly happens often and that makes that strategy a popular tool in the arsenal of many poker players. Most of the poker players are weak. If they’ve been raised on one street, they are afraid to bet on the next and prefer to check instead.

Suppose a player on the button has an open-ended straight draw on the flop. He has 8 outs to complete his draw and he, obviously, would like to stay in the pot. He can call one small bet on the flop and the two small bets on the turn (because the bet size is doubled on the turn) for a total cost of 3 small bets to see the river. Or he can raise the flop paying two small bets. On the turn the rest of the players will check in fear, and the raiser will check also and see the river card for free. Actually it won’t be for free – it will simply be cheaper, because instead of 3 small, his price will only be 2 small bets. Popular poker jargon calls that cheap card a “free” card.

The benefits of the free cards strategy in Texas Holdem poker

The free card strategy has multiple benefits attractive for many poker players. Free card strategy allows a player in position who has a draw to see the river card cheaply and pay one small bet less for an attempt to complete his draw. Another benefit is, if he completes his draw, he wins a bigger pot, which has been built up on the flop by his raise. One more benefit is in possibility that his raise on the flop may win him a pot right away if there are only few weak players on the flop with weak hands. The last important benefit of the free card strategy occurs when a poker player has a medium-strength hand. If for ex. he raises from position on the flop with a middle pair he can get a free card on the turn and get a cheap showdown for his middle pair on the river.

The risk associated with the free card strategy in Texas Holdem poker

The main risk associated with the free card strategy is that the check on the turn by the raiser (when he does not get his card) reveals his attempt for the rest of the field to draw cheaply. If the board on the flop was color and/or rank coordinated for possible flush or straight draws, the opponents know at that point that the raiser does not have a made hand and is on the draw. If a safe card shows up on the river, which does not complete possible draws, they can bet first to bluff the raiser off the pot. Another risk is that the raiser on the flop going for a free card on the turn can be reraised by an aggressive opponent and bet into on the turn. In this case a raiser will pay for his draw instead of paying less. That means that the free card strategy is safer to use against passive opponents.

How to use the free card strategy correctly

When a poker player, which has a position on the flop, contemplates the use of the free card strategy, he has to take into consideration few factors – the strength of his draw, the number of the players and their styles of play (aggressive or passive). If a player has a very strong draw like a straight or a flush draw with two overcards, he can raise on the flop regardless of the playing styles of the rest of the players. Even if an aggressive opponent will reraise, it won’t be a problem because such strong draws will come more than 50% of the time. Moreover, in the face of their reraise, it will be correct for a player with the strong draw to raise again to build the pot. However, if there are only few players on the flop and the flop is ragged, it might be a good idea just to call the bet without raising and not to use the free card strategy, in order to keep the players in the pot. The raise can knock out the players out of the pot and reduce the size of the pot, which a player with a strong draw has a good chance to win.

In some situations, a poker player using the free card strategy has to continue to bet on the turn even if the opponents have checked. The reason to refuse a free card is the possibility that the bet on the turn might win the pot right away. That possibility exists when there are few weak opponents on the flop and the flop, the flop is ragged and the card on the turn seems to be neutral.

 Copyright Progress Publishing Co.

Selected References:

David Sklansky Mason Malmuth    Holdem Poker Phil Hellmuth  Jr   Play Poker Like the Pros
Ed Miller  David Sklansky   Small  Stakes Holdem Poker Doyle Brunson   Super System  - A Course in Power Poker
David Sklansky    The Theory of Poker Dan Harrington   Harrington on Poker
Lee Jones    Winning Low Limit Texas Holdem Poker John Vorhaus   Killer Poker
Ken Warren   Ken Warren Teaches Texas Holdem Poker Gide to Bobby Baldwin  Bobby Baldwin's Winning Poker Secrets
Tom McEvoy Shane Smith  Beat Texas Holdem Poker T J Cloutier Tom McEvoy Champiomship Texas Holdem Poker