The Overwhelming Strength of the Free Card Play in No-Limit Hold'emAdded - Dec. 15, 2014 Poker
No-limit hold'em is a game that has been mined for strategy in a major way. What we mean by that is that it's hard to find new tactics in this game because there's such an overwhelming amount of material available for it. However, this has created a situation where there's a ton of noise without a strong message for the most part, and you can take advantage of this by knowing exactly what you're going for with your plays. One play that's really good for this is the free card play.
It's one of the more well-known plays, but it's fallen out of fashion because a lot of players think that it's very transparent. The free card play works by raising in position or betting in position when it's check to you on the flop when you have a draw of some sort. By taking the aggressive route, you take control of the action and have the initiative. A lot of the time, you're going to have your opponent call and check to you on the turn to see what you do. The trick here is that you take advantage of this tendency by simply checking through to get your free card on the river.
To make this play work in today's environment, you have to mix it up in a few ways. One way is to raise the flop sometimes with really strong hands instead of just calling down to give your opponent a chance to fire another barrel on the turn. By raising some of your strongest hands on the flop, you'll get a chance to catch them trying to raise over the top of your draw, and this will give you a bigger payout than usual with those stronger hands.
Another play you'll need to take sometimes is raising on the flop with a draw and then going ahead and betting on the turn even when you don't hit. The reason for this is that you want to mix things up with your strongest hands when you raise the flop, get called and bet the turn. This takes advantage of players who might call the flop just to see if you bet on the turn with medium-strength holdings. Now they have no correct play, and you can get them to make a mistake no matter how they play their hand.