The Later Streets

Fifth Street

The decision on fifth street is a close second in importance to the decision on third street. This is because fifth street is when the bets double in size and a call usually ties you on to the end, which may mean putting in an additional two or more large bets, especially in an aggressive poker game.

Suppose you have a hand, such as a flussh draw, that you will at least call a bet. Instead of checking, you should bet this hand if some reasonable chance exists that your opponent will fold. An example is if your oppoent has caught two blanks, and from the way the hand has been played, you suspect that he started with a three-flushes or a small pair.

However, there are times when you should check. These times occur when you know your opponent will always check behind you-and you want this-and you are absolutely certain you will be called if you bet. However, even under these circumstances, it may be better to bet to set up a steal on a subsequent round.

A common misconception is that you want to keep as many players in as possible on fifth street if you have a drawing hand. This is not necessarily true. If your drawing hand can make a big pair that might win against one opponent, you may want to raise. (Or if you already have a pair, you may want to raise to limit the pot to two players.) A raise on fifth street also may get you a free card.

A similar concept is that if you have a choice between playing against either one or two opponents, it is often better to be heads-up, because you may win with a bigger pair or two small pair. Moreover, in a two-person pot, your opponent may not be if you catch a big card.

It is also correct to raise on fifth street with a drawing hand if many players are in, you are in a late position, and you think you have the best drawing hand. You need to be fairly sure that your hand has the best potential. Remember, your opponents can have big cards that you don’t see and thus may be drawing to a bigger straigh or flush than you.

On fifth street, it is important to eliminate players when you believe you have the best hand. In other words, almost never give a free card.

However, if you are against many opponents and only have one big pair you should usually check, even if it seems like you have the best hand. This is because there is good chance that everyone will call, and you will be a bigger dog than the number of bets that you are collecting, because of all the different combinations that can be out. If you check and everyone checks, you usually give up very little. (But it may be correct to check-raise if you can knock players out.)

Another fifth street concept is to recognize those times you should raise when you are almost certain that you do not have the best hand.

Here’s an example. A player who has just caught an offsuait ace checks. The next player has


and bets. You have two queens and a three-flush, and your cards are live. It is a multiway pot. There is a person behind you who you suspect has two kings, and you think the bettor started with a pair of tens and probably has made two pair. The correct play is to raise to drive out the other hands. This play notably increase your chances of winning (though you are still a small underdong) because you now are much more likely to win if you improve your hand.

This is a very important concept. Failure to raise in the situation will cost you significant money in the long run. Another advantage to this raise, besides possibly knocking out the other players, is that it might gain you a fere crd on sixth street if you improve; otherwise, it is usually best to check.

However, raising in similar spots on fifth street is not always correct. Suppose an opponent makes an open pair (but doesn’t pair his dor card). He bets, meaning a probable two pair. If you are next to act and have one higher pair, you might raise to try to eliminate the other players. But this is not the same situation as described earlier. Sometimes your opponent will have trips. For instance, he may have with a three-flush and paired on fourth street.

In general, trying for a check-raise on fifth street is not good poker stratagie since your check may cause you to lose a double-size bet. You need to be very sure that your opponent will bet. Also, your check may allow a miracle card to beat you.

If you pair you door card, it usually will stop your opponent from betting. This means that it is almost certainly wrong to try for a check-raise in this spot. The time to attempt a check-raise on fifth street is with concealed trips or sometimes a high two pair. However, if your fifth-street card is the same suit as your door card, but you actually have hidden trips, you usually should bet and try to represent a flush draw. You definitely would not try for a check-raise on fifth street against weak timid players because they do not bet often enough.

Occasionally there are other benefits to a check-raise on fifth street besides getting more money in the pot. For instance, a check-raise might get you a free card. The play is to represent a strong hand in such a manner that if you miss on sixth street, your opponent will not bet (after you check).

Here’s an example. You raise on third street with


and are raised by a queen, meaning at least a pair of queens. On fourth street, you both catch blanks. He bets and you call. On fifth street, you catch a king versus another blank for your opponent. Check-raise a weak player. (Notice that you have two overcards plus a pair.)

On sixth street, if you catch an ace, you will get an extra bet. If you catch a king, your opponent will fold, which you won’t like, but at least you got more money in the pot. And if you pair your fourth street card, your opponent probably will foold, and you want him to do so. Another advantage to check-raising in this spot is that your opponent may fold immediately, especially if he has been representing two queens but actually has less.

If you have a small pair and a three-flush on fifth street and someone bets, neither calling nor folding is automatic. When deciding whether to call, you must consider what you think you have to beat, how much money is in the pot, and how the hand most likely will be played from that point on. If most of these are favorable, you should call.

Usually call on fifth street with a small pair if you have either an ace or two overcrds are live. Automatically folding in this situation (which a lot of players do) is very costly. In other words, it is worth chasing a larger pair in a heads-up pot on fifth street if you have two live kickers higher than your oppoment’s probable pair or a live ace kicker. But this assumes that the pot is offering you approximately 4-to-1 poker pot odds at this point, and that there is no reason to believe your opponent has more than one pair.

Here’s an example. On fifth street you have


and your opponent has


He has represented a pair of kinds, and has been betting all the way. You should call him on fifth street as long as your hand is live.