Explanation of Card Removal

Card removal describes the effect that our hand has on the possible combinations of hands that our opponent holds. In other words, if we hold the Ace of Diamonds, we know that our opponent never has the Ace of Diamonds. Although card removal effects are generally quite small, they allow us to weight our decision one way of the other in tight spots. The term card removal is often used along with the term “blocker” or “blocking effect”.

Example of Card Removal used in a sentence -> We held the Ace of diamonds. So, it was less likely our opponent had the flush due to card removal effects.

Card Removal Poker Strategy

Let’s list two common scenarios in Hold’em where a player might consider card removal effects.

1. 4bet bluffing pre-flop with Ax type hands. When we 4bet bluff pre-flop in Hold’em, the concern is that our opponent might have pocket Aces. They could 5bet shove over the top. By holding an Ace in our hand,card removal effects mean that our opponent has less possible combinations of Aces in his range. Ordinarily, our opponent would have six combos of AA. But since we hold an Ace, our opponent now only has three possible combos of AA. 

2. Bluff-catching on flush completing rivers. The diamond flush completes on the river. When our opponent makes a large bet, we are naturally concerned that he might have the diamond flush. Since we hold the Ace of diamonds in our hand, we know that our opponent has less possible combinations of completed flushes. We hence decide to bluff-catch.

As a final pointer, keep in mind that many players overemphasize the importance of blocker effects. In the Ace of diamonds bluff-catch example, if our opponent never bluffs the river, the card removal effects make no real difference. We should find the fold. Card removal effects should hence only be considered in otherwise close spots. It’s common to see players use card removal effects to justify significantly losing calls. 

See Also

Blocker, Blocker Bet, Bluffcatch, Four-bet

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