Explanation of Free Card
Giving a “free card” refers to us ending the action on a certain street by checking back. Our opponent gets to see a turn card without needing to invest additional chips; i.e. he sees it for “free”. The term “giving a free card” usually carries a negative connotation – i.e. we have done something that helps our opponent.
“Taking” a free card refers to the exact same scenario but now carries a positive connotation. I.e. we get to see an additional card for free rather than betting and opening ourselves up to the possibility of facing a check/raise.
Example of Free Cardused in a sentence -> There are a number of ways our hand can be outdrawn from turn to river, so we want to avoid giving free cards.
How to Use Free Card as Part of Your Poker Strategy
As the explanation alludes to, whether giving/taking a free card is good or bad often depends on the eye of the beholder.
Some players will often benefit from seeing a free card more than others. It might be a mistake to allow our opponent to see a free card if he could potentially benefit from it more than we can. Conversely, it might be favourable to allow our opponent to see a free card if it is more likely to benefit us than him. The decision regarding whether or not to take the free card as the in position player hence revolves around a solid understanding of both players’ ranges.
As a rough guide keep in mind the following -
- Vulnerable made hands don’t generally like to give free cards. They typically prefer to protect their equity by betting.
- Draws often benefit from seeing free cards especially when they don’t expect to have a lot of fold-equity and especially when they are non-nut draws and don’t benefit from building the pot.
So, if we are in position with a vulnerable made hand on a drawy texture, betting usually makes sense. Giving our opponent the free card will often benefit him more than us. Vulnerable made hands don’t usually improve well on later streets.