Start taking advantage of scare cards
One of the easiest ways to start winning more at poker is by taking advantage of scare cards, which are cards that potentially improve a player’s hand. If it’s a scare card for you, it’s because the card fails t o help you while l i kely benefitting your opponent.
Of course, scare cards work both ways, by which I mean that some cards are likely to frighten your opponent. Even if such cards don’t help you, you need to take advantage. Let’s take a look at an example.
I was recently playing a $1-$2 no-limit hold ’em cash game when action folded to me in the cutoff seat. I raised to $6 out of my $200 stack, holding 6c 4c. The player on the button, also sitting with $200, made the call, and both blinds Chad Holloway’s hand: Flop: folded.
The flop came down 3c 2d Qh, and I continued for $10, about two-thirds of the pot. All I had at this point was a gutshot straight draw with a backdoor club flush draw. My opponent called, and the dealer burned and turned the Ac. That was the scare card.
The ace was a scare card because it was in my perceived range. By raising preflop, I indicated strength, and more often than not, opponents associate strength with an ace. After all, I did raise preflop. If my opponent didn’t believe me on the flop, he was more likely to believe me if I bet again on a scare card. Similarly, even if my opponent had flopped top pair (queens), he would be hard-pressed to continue if I applied pressure on a scare card.
The same could be said if he were sitting with a smaller pocket pair. Imagine you’re the button in this hand with any pair from fives to jacks, and your opponent bets Turn: River: into you on a queen-high board and is now doing it again after an ace peeled off. Pretty scary.
In this case, the scare card also gave me additional equity, meaning it improved my hand by giving me a flush draw. That was another reason to fire another barrel at it.
I ended up betting $25 with the hope of taking down the pot then and there. Surprisingly, my opponent called, and I had to reevaluate. By calling two bets, my opponent likely held either an ace or queen. Regardless, he was sure to have me beat unless I improved on the river.
Fortunately, the 5s peeled off to give me the nuts. I bet $100, and my opponent called with the As Jd. The scare card had actually improved my opponent, but if it hadn’t — say he held Ks Jd instead — it’s easy to see why my turn bet would have worked.
These are the types of spots you need to recognize and capitalize on if you want to improve your results at the poker table. If you simply sit around waiting for the nuts all the time, you’re going to miss out on of dozens of moneymaking opportunities.