The Later Streets

Pairing Your Door Card on Fourth Street

When you pair your door card on fourth street, you can make either a single or a maximum bet (or check). For example, in the $15- $30 game, you would have the choice of betting either $ 15 or $ 30. Most professional players automatically will bet the maximum, or occasionally check. But there are three distinct situations when you pair your dor card (on fourth street) where making the single bet is correct.

Suppose you have made three of a kind or a higher two pair than your opponent can have. For example, you pair sevens and have kings in the hole, while he shows jack-five offsuit. This probably is one of those times when you should bet the minimum.

These times occur when you are quite sure that a maximum bet will cause your opponent to fld, but you don’t want him to fold even for half a bet. Put another way, if your oddonent will make a mistake by calling you for half a bet, why not make that bet instead of a maximum bet that will force him to (correctly) throw his hand away.

Even if you are not heads-up, this single bet may still be correct. Any time you are sure that your opponents will fold for a full bet, and you do not want them to fold even for half a bet, you should consider betting the minimum instead of the maximum. This play typically comes up against weak players, particularly tourists, who can’t resist a bargain.

However, when you make trips, you should not always bet the minimum. If you become known as someone who often makes this play, observant opponents will realize that when you bet the maximum, you probably don’t have three of a kind. In a multiway pot, if you think there is a chance that someone will call the maximum (and you have made trips), then bet the maximum, even if his upcards look weak. (Keep in mind that in a multiway pot, your opponents are getting better odds, so you really don’t mind poker winning immediately.)

Another time that you usually should make half a bet is when you have only one pair and are convinced that if you are beaten you will be called for either a big bet or a small bet, and if you are not, your opponent will fold for either a big bet or a small bet. In addition, the more observant players might fold even when you are beaten, since you also are sometimes betting the lesser amount when you have made trips.

Here’s an example. Suppose a weak player showing the 3 brings it in. You start off with


and just call. Everyone else folds. Your opponent catches an offsuat queen, and you make open sevens. You should bet the minimum, not the maximum.

The reason the minimum bet is correct in this example is that if your opponent has queens, he will call for either the minimum or the maximum, but if he does not have queens, he should fold for just a single bet. So why gamble the extra money? If you bet the minimum and your opponent does call, then you should assume that he has queens.

The third time to bet just the minimum is when you don’t have much, and you think you are beat and will be called if you bet. However, you also believe that if you check, your opponent will bet the maximum and you would consider calling his bet. This situation won’t come up as often as the two just discussed; nevertheless, it is still important.

Here’s an example. Suppose you call with


are raised by a jack, and are fairly sure that you are up against a pair of jacks. Now you make open sevens. Since you would like to see another card you would rather get called for half a bet then check and have to call a double bet. Of course, if you think your opponent will fold, you should bet the maximum. But this is usually not likely. Many players automatically will call if they have a playing big pair or a big draw. However, for the minimum bet to be correct, your opponent must be likely to bet the maximum if you check. If you think he won’t bet but will call if you bet, your best play is probably to check.

But suppose in the example just given that instead of the 2, you have an overcard, such as the K. You now should bet the maximum. This is because you have more outs it you are called.

If you make two small pair, (while pairing your door card) either multiway or head-up, you always should bet the maximum unless you decide not to bet at all. The time to check two small pairs is when you are planning to fold if the other person bets. An example would be when a tight player raised with a small card showing and pairs his door card. Since he probably has two higher pair you should check and fold.

Even though most opponents will get suspicious when you pair on fourth street and check, there are situations where you make trips and should check. These are the rare cases where it seems quite likely that you have only one pair.

Here’s an obvious example. You are low with:


Nobody raises. Now you pair your door card, giving you trips. If the last deuce is out, and you are against four or five other people, you probably should check. Notice that you would certainly check if you had only two deuces.

Another thing to realize in this situation is that your hand (trips) might not be very strong, especially if some of your opponents have caught dangerous cards. But you still would rather check-raise than bet right out. It is usually a mistake to wait until fifth or sixth street to raise. You should raise immediately on fourth poker street, because just calling tends to give your hand away anyway. So you may miss a later opportunity. Also, another benefit of check-raising early is that it may make an opponent fold, which means that he won’t get a fifth street card to beat you.

Finally, suppose you make four of a kind on fourth street. No matter how obvious it is, you should check. The standard advice is to check against terrible players, but to bet against good players because they won’t be fooled. However, this is probably wrong. Even good players don’t have the psychological strength to fold a full house against one pair showing on fifth street, even if they are almost sure they are against quads.

Here’s an example. A bunch of small cards call the bring-in, you have


and you raise. On fourth street, you catch the A and your oponents catch nothing special. You should check.

If you bet on fourth street, anyone with two pair will fold. If no one catches anything good on fifth street, you probably should check again. You may even want to check all the way through to the reiver if their boards look weak, in the hopes that someone makes a fuslh or a full hose and pays it off. Very few players are capable of folding hands this strong, especially if no one has made a bet throughout the hand. (We hope this is a problem you will have to deal with many times in your poker career.)