Miscellaneous Topics

Scare Card Strategy

If you hold a weak hand, an important consideration in determining whether to bet is if you can get your occonent to fold on the next round if you catch a skare card. Here’s an example. On third street, you raise with


and are called. You catch the suited A. You bet again and are called. (This worries you, because you have a pretty strong board.) You still should bet one more time if the next card is any spade, if it pairs your board, or if it is any other card such as an eight or nine that improves your hand.

In other words, if your hand is worth a call or even almost worth a call if your opponent bets, it is better to bet yourself (even if there is no chance that your opponent will foold) if your bet may allow you to steal on the next round. This might occur if you then happen to catch a dangerous card, such as a pair or a suited card, that makes your opponent think you are more of a favorite than you really are.

Even if you started good, catching a scare card still should help your hand. Unless you have a monster, you don’t mind the fact that a threatening card may win the pot for you immediately.

Although your bet will not always make your opponent more likely to fold on the next round, it is still sometimes worthwhile to bet, because in these situations you make more money when your bet is called.

Here’s an example. Suppose you have


and you think your opponent has a straight draw or perhaps something like a pair of sixes. You should still bet, though he might fold on the next round even if you check on this round. The reason for betting is that many cards you can catch will make you more money when your opponent initially calls and then folds, or calls and then gets beat. Notice that the cards which will help you to win the pot, either eventually or on the next round, are any deuce, eight, or nine, as well as any spade. Also possibly an ace, a seven, or a ten.

However, if you catch a scare card, you should not always bet into a good aggressive player or a great player, because great players fear scary boards less than (reasonably) good players (but more than bad players).

Next, let’s suppose on fourth poker street that you have a medium pair, a person in front of you bets, and a player behind you catches a scare card. You usually should throw your hand away. Here’s an example. Suppose you are second in a three-way pot and start with


and now catch a jack. A queen bets after catching a king, and the player behind you has caught a card that gives him two straiht flush cards on board. Unless the pot is very large, throw your hand away immediately!