Getting Free Cards in Holdem
The key to playing and enjoying Texas HoldEm on a regular basis is winning. Some people just play on occasion to pass the time or to get some entertainment. But, if you are going to play on a regular basis, you have to win, at least once in a while, to be able to continue to play. One way to win more often or at worst to lose less money is to get free cards. You want free cards when you are on a draw, flopped bottom pair, or you think another player may have hit something strong. The question is, how do you get free cards?
The best way to get a free card once in a while is to make it look like you are going to be betting or raising when the action comes to you. You don’t want to use this one too often and it doesn’t work as well if you are someone who is always playing with your chips. It rarely works if someone at the table has the nuts or has a very strong hand, so you have to pay attention to the other player’s styles previous to trying to get free cards and watch their reaction when you reach for your chips. Your best chance of making this work will be when you are acting last (on the button) or very close to it. Pick your spot based on how people looked and played pre-flop for the best chance to pull this trick out.
When you are ready to make your move there are a couple of ways you can do it. One way is to just grab the amount off of your stack that would be enough for a raise when someone bets. Make it fairly noticeable and either hold that amount in your hand so it can be seen or place the raise amount on the table separate from your main chips and keep your hand on the chips as if you are about to bet them. There is definitely some action involved in this ploy, as looking to obvious can backfire if someone was on the fence about betting and they notice you hamming it up with your chips.
Another way to accomplish this is to just subtly go to your chips and count out your raise amount one by one by slightly lifting each chip off the stack as you count. Start from the top of the stack and lift a chip to separate it from the rest of the stack, then go to the next chip and the next until you’ve slowly separated the raising amount as the players in front of you are deciding if they should bet or not. If you can time it right, the action will be checked to you, just as you are finishing your count and then you can hesitate as if you are thinking about why everyone just checked to you. Then accept your free card with a check and hope for the best.
If you are in later position, another move that you can use to help you get a free card is a raise on the flop. If you flop a draw on the flop and your opponent leads out, raise them with your draw. Odds are that the opponent will just call and then check to you on the turn. This is most effective in Limit Holdem games. The reason is that the turn bet is double the flop bet. If you raise on the flop and get a free card on the turn, you save one small bet in drawing to your hand. If you miss, you do not lose as much money.
A free card a few times each session will end up paying off in the long run. No, this technique is not usually going to make you rich, but it will help you steal a pot here and there. When you have to pay to see cards that may or may not help you, it’s a gamble and not one you are usually going to win, so sneaking out a free card every once in a while will help you save your bankroll for when you really want to use it… when you are ahead in a hand.