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When you are certain you have the best hand, deciding whether to bet with more cards to come is relatively easy.

However, you are frequently in a situation where you suspect you have the best poker hand, but you know you will be called only if you are beaten. Still, you must consider betting so that you do not give your opponent a free shot to outdraw you in the event you do have the best hand. The factors to consider when deciding to bet are:

    1. Your chances of having the best hand.
      2. The chances the next card will give your opponent the best hand when he would have folded had you bet.
      3. The size of the pot.
      4. The chances you will outdraw a better hand that might call you.

The larger the pot and the greater the chances your opponent will outdraw you on the next card, the more reason you have to bet.

Point number 4 needs some explaining. Suppose you are afraid you do not have as good a hand as your opponent.

Before betting, you should take into account what your chances are of outdrawing the hand you fear your opponent might have.

The higher those chances, the more reason you have to bet. The lower they are, the more reason you have to check.

To take an obvious example first, if you have two pair and a four-flush in seven card stud and you are worried that your opponent has made a flush straight, you should most certainly bet rather than give him a free card in the event he does not yet have the straight.

Your combined chances of making either a full house or a flush to beat a straight are very good. On the other hand, if you have two pair with no four-flush and fears your opponent has made a straight, you would be inclined to check since your chances of making a full house are slim.

Here is a more subtle example of the same principle from hold’em. The flop comes:


In one instance you are holding


and in the other you are holding


Which hand would you be more inclined to bet? It turns out you are in much better shape with the A 7 (which gives you two 7s) than you are with two 8s because there are five unseen cards that will improve the A 7 three aces and two 7s while there are only two cards that will improve the pair of 8s namely, the remaining two 8s. (You disregard pairing any card on board since the pair improves your opponent’s hand as much as or perhaps even more than it does your own.)

Since you have more ways of improving to beat someone with, say, two jacks, you would be more inclined to bet with an A, 7.

The fewer ways you have of improving, the more convinced you have to be that you already have the best hand in order to bet.

Thus, while you might check two 8s when the flop comes J 7 3 , you would most definitely bet two queens even though the latter hand also has only two ways of improving (the remaining two queens).

With two queens you are pretty sure you already have the best hand, yet you are not strong enough to risk giving a free card.


When you’re trying to decide whether or not to bet your hand and worry about making a mistake, you should keep in mind one very important principle a mistake that costs you the pot is a catastrophe, especially if the pot has become relatively large, while a mistake that costs you one bet is not.

When in doubt, make sure you don ’t make a mistake poker theorem that costs you the pot odds. Checking and giving an opponent with a worse hand a free card may cost you the pot when he outdraws you.

However, betting and getting called by a better hand costs you at most just that one bet. Thus, the only time to give free cards with the probable best hand is when your hand is so strong it is in little danger of being outdraw and your deception sets up the likelihood of larger profits in future bet in comparison to what is currently in the pot.

The Free Card | Giving or Not Giving a Free Card in Practice | Getting a Free Card

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