Giving free cards in No-Limit Hold’em

free sign

I was having a discussion the other day with a novice poker player that had come primarily from a Limit Hold’em background and one of the things that he remarked was in how it was bad to give free cards in poker.

This may apply in Limit but it isn’t always the case in No-Limit Hold’em. In Limit Hold’em, it is nearly always the case that you should see the showdown with a decent pair. This means that if you are ahead and you let your opponent hit a one pair hand that it will then be very difficult to then get them away from the pot.

In No-Limit Hold’em you can allow your opponent to make a one pair holding but you can still prize them away from the pot with pressure betting and raising.

Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. It has been folded around to a player in the cut-off that open-raises with the 5c-5d. It then gets folded by the button and small blind with the big blind calling with the Js-9s. The flop comes 10d-4c-2h and now let us look at this from both a Limit and No-Limit perspective.

If this were Limit Hold’em, it would be bad to check with the fives if our opponent checked to us. If our opponent hit their six outer on the turn then there is no way that we will be able to make them fold and will then be forced to hit our two outer to win the hand. This would be even more so if they hit their jack on the turn which gave them top pair. In fact, if the turn card was a king, queen, eight or seven then the extra equity of the straight draw could mean that a check-raise line may make us fold the best hand.

However, in No-Limit Hold’em, the consequences of being overtaken are not as severe… not if you understand two way betting! In No-Limit Hold’em, you can often start out betting for one reason and then betting for a completely different reason all within the same hand. If we check the pocket fives on the flop in No-Limit play, this could be for value because weaker hands could then bluff the turn.

This could then allow us to call or raise the turn and thus create extra profit from our opponent. Even if they have made a hand like a pair of nines or even top pair then they still will not have a hand that can take any sort of heat post flop. It is up to us to lay that heat down on our opponent. If we bet the turn and get called then an even bigger bet on the river could still prize our opponent away from the pot. This means that giving free cards as long as you remain very aggressive throughout the remainder of the hand is not critical.

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