Miscellaneous Topics

Buying the Free Card on Fourth Street

There is a standard play on fourth street that almost all the good players make-and so should you. Against weak players, if someone bets on fourth street and you have any kind of scary board whatsoever, you should raise and then give yourself a free card on fifth street after he “checks to the raiser.”

This play is especially correct when your hand is likely to bet last on the following round. Also keep in mind that this play works better if the fifth street cards that would make you first (to act) on that round would be good for you.

Here’s an example. Your opponent has


and you have


You should raise (as long as your opponent is a weak player), even if you are positive that you are against a pair of kings. Notice that the only cards you can catch to make you go first on the next round are cards that improve your hand.

After making this play, if your oppodent checks to you on fifth street, you do not always have to check if you don’t improve. An alternative poker strategy is to bet on fifth street and take a free chard on sixth when appropriate.

However, against a very good player, you should often not make this play. This is because you might be reraised or just called and then bet into on the next round.

Suppose you started with:


Your opponent, whose duor card is a fce card, catches a non-threatening card on fourth street and bets. You can now raise, especially if your fourth street card appears to go well with your door card and/or you now have a three-flussh.

Another example. You have


and your opponent started with a king up and caught a baby on fourth street. Raise if he bets. Notice that if you catch an ace or a king, making you high, you have improved your hand since you now have straght potential.

Here’s more risky example. Your opponent has


and you have


Notice that a raise in this spot has some drawbacks, since a queen, a king, or an ace will not help you very much but may force you to bet first. However, you still should make this raise against weak opponents because they are so likely to check to you on the next round. But if you now catch a high card and have to go first, you cannot get a free card, unless your opponent is so timid that your raise on the previous round makes him afraid to bet even after you check.

Unfortunately, you will not be the only who makes this type of play. It is routine for good players. The best counter strartegy is to call your opponent’s raise on fourth street, and then go ahead and lead on fifth street when his card does not seem to help him and you think he was trying for a free card.

However, you might get raised again! If this happens, you should still probably call. Remember, in seven card stud, you are almost never drawing that slim.