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StrategyFixed Limit

Concepts: The Free Card Raise

Introduction

In this article
  • When a free card raise is the best option
  • Free card raise vs. inducing overcalls
  • Free card raises in heads up play

A free card raise is a made on the flop with the intent of checking on the turn in order to see the river for free. This move takes advantage of the fact that most players will check to the aggressor from the previous betting round.

A free card raise can be made with a draw or with a hand you would like take to the showdown cheaply (cheap-SD-raise). A cheap-SD-raise, however, is rarely the best option you will have on the flop. This article will focus on free card raises made with drawing hands.

When this move works correctly, you pay a total of 2 SBs = 1 BB to see both the turn and river cards. If you were to call on both the flop and the turn, you would pay a total of 3 SBs = 1.5 BBs to see both the turn and river cards. A free card raise can save you 0.5 BBs. It can, however, end up costing 0.5 BBs more than a call. This happens when your opponent bets the flop, but would not bet the turn.

You can also end up paying 0.5 BBs more when your opponent calls your raise and donks on the turn. In a worst case scenario your opponent could even 3-bet, in which case you would have to pay 1 BB more to see the river than if you had just called on the flop.

As you can see, a free card raise has to work fairly often to offset the disadvantages you can face as opposed to simply calling a small bet on the flop. Note: An exception is made when you have a very strong draw and could view your raise as a value raise.

Another disadvantage: You won't generate any fold equity on the big streets (since your plan is to check) and might give an opponent with his mouse on the fold button a free card that changes his mind.

A check behind on the turn can also be a dead give away to your opponents, which lowers your implied odds when you hit on the river and makes you vulnerable to bluffs.

This article will help you identify situations in which a free card raise your best option on the flop.

The value- and free card raise

A free card can only help you when you are behind. When you are ahead, any free cards only give your opponent the chance to catch up.

A typical free card raise situation: You are facing several opponents and have a strong draw (OESD or flush draw). You will rarely have the best hand at the moment, but your free card raise is also a value raise.

You have nothing to worry about if an opponent 3-bets. You should already know that you can raise strong draws for value when facing two or more opponents, since your equity is above average. Every dollar that enters the pot is like money in your pocket. You should even bet/raise out of position with such a hand.

You should definitely raise for value when you are in position (which is then also a free card raise). You can often buy the button (make the opponent behind you fold so that you will be in position in the next round) with a raise (after players in front of you have already invested!) in a multiway pot. It's kind of like trading one customer (the player behind you) for position, which is a pretty good trade to make in this situation. You can almost always raise with a strong draw when you are in position in a multiway pot.

 

That's not the entire article...

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