## Counter Strategies to the Free Card Raise

Although raising for a free card is a powerful strategy, there are counter strategies available. A sharp player who can detect his opponent's free card raise can use these counter strategies to thwart his opponent's plan. Here are some counter strategies against the free card raise. The late position player is denoted as LP and the early position player is denoted as EP.

### 1. Re-raising on the Flop

If there is a draw on the Flop and you are sure the LP is a player who would definitely raise for a free card if he had a draw, then you may consider re-raising on the Flop. This thwarts the free card strategy as it makes the free card raiser put in more bets rather than fewer bets. Instead of getting a card for "free", you have made it expensive for him.

### 2. Betting out on the Turn

After the LP had raised on the Flop, the EP can bet out on the Turn and force the LP to put in more chips than the LP was hoping for. There is value in waiting until the Turn for the EP to bet (compared to re-raising on the Flop), as the EP can see if a dangerous card has come on the Turn.

There can still be value for the LP to raise for a free card, depending on how likely the EP is to employ the counter strategy of betting on the Turn. The value of raising for a free card by the LP is determined by the percentage of time the EP will bet out on the Turn (when he has a better hand) even after the EP was raised on the Flop. If the EP bets out on the Turn all the time, then the strategy of the free card raise by the LP has backfired. If the EP never bets out on the Turn, then the strategy of the free card raise by the LP has worked. This chart shows that percentage in the Breakeven Point column. The Breakeven Point is determined by the number of outs the LP is drawing to. The fewer outs the LP has, the lower the Breakeven Point will be. The chart assumes the pot size was 5 big bets before the LP raised on the Flop.

 Type of Draw by LP Outs EV of free card raise when EP EV of calling Breakeven Pointa for always checks on the Turn always bets on the Turn on the Flop raising Flush 9 +1.99 +1.50 +1.65 69.5% Straight 8 +1.69 +1.15 +1.33 65.7% Overcards 6 +1.06 +0.41 +0.67 59.9% Lower Split Pair 5 +0.73 +0.04 +0.33 57.6%

a Probability of the EP betting on the Turn with a better hand after the LP raises on the Flop that would make the EV of a free card raise the same as the EV of just calling.

a Probability of the EP betting on the Turn with a better hand after the LP raises on the Flop that would make the EV of a free card raise the same as the EV of just calling.

The EV of the free card raise is dependent on the frequency that the EP will bet on the Turn when he has the better hand. In the chart above, it shows that if the EP always checks on the Turn when the LP raises for a free card on the Flop, then the EV of raising for a free card is significantly higher than the EV of calling. (For example, if the LP has a straight draw with 8 outs, the EV of a free card raise if the EP always checks on the Turn is +1.69. If the LP just calls on the Flop, then his EV is +1.33. In that case, a free card raise has gained the LP +0.36.) This is true in all situations no matter the type of draw by the LP, although the value of raising for a free card will vary depending on the number of outs the LP has.

However, if the EP can play back and bets out on the Turn all the time when he does have the better hand, then the EV of the free card raise for the LP is lower than the EV of calling on the Flop. (For example, if the LP has a flush draw with 9 outs, the EV of a free card raise if the EP always bets on the Turn is +1.50. If the LP just calls on the Flop, then his EV is +1.65. In that case, a free card raise has lost the LP -0.15.) This shows that the value of the strategy of raising for a free card is partially based on the EP's aggressiveness.

The EP's aggressiveness can be expressed as the probability that he will bet on the Turn with the better hand after he is raised on the Flop. The breakeven point is shown on the chart above. For example, if the LP raised on the Flop for a free card with a flush draw, the EP has to be willing to bet on the Turn with a better hand less than 69.5% of the time for the free card raise by the LP to be a better option than just calling on the Flop. On the chart, it shows that the fewer outs there are, the lower that breakeven point needs to be. This means with fewer outs, the aggressive level of the opponent becomes a bigger factor in the value of raising for a free card.