Some of us just love to budget. Whether that means bringing a packed lunch to work or mending clothing instead of buying new items, we can all find ways to save a little money here and there. Did you know that you can also budget during a poker game? Applying a tactic known as ‘giving a free card’ is a way of saving money for both you and your opponents right in the middle of the game. Is giving a free card always a good idea? And how does it work? These questions are answered below.

The principles of giving a free card

Giving a free card means that you and your opponent will be able to draw and look at a new card without having to lay down a bet. Usually, the player who has proposed the free card situation will be able to check first. Both you and your opponent will save money from placing a bet on this round. A free card situation usually can only take place when there are just two players left in the game, as all of the other players have folded.

When is the best time to give a free card?

There are two key conditions that should ideally be in place before you consider giving a free card. These are:

  • It is just you and another opponent left in the game.
  • You are confident that you have a strong drawing hand, and a clear strategy regarding what you plan to do with that hand.

When these conditions are in place, it is crucial that you are the first player to act and to propose the free card. This puts you in a stronger position than your opponent, who simply has to accept or deny your proposal.

Side point: what happens if your opponent refuses to accept a free card?

Your opponent might do this because they know they would be in a weaker position than if they had been the one to propose the free card. They could also do so because they are bluffing. Whatever their reasons, your best strategy now is to accept your opponent’s refusal, and then to raise the stakes in the next round.

What are the advantages of giving a free card?

As well as saving you and your opponent money, there are several advantages to deploying this tactic. The two key advantages are as follows:

  • It enables us to gain a free card whilst concealing the strength of our hand from our opponent.
  • It enables us to win quickly in the next round.

Are there any disadvantages to giving a free card?

There are a couple of limitations to this strategy, and if your hand and your status within the game does not meet certain requirements, giving a free card could actually disadvantage you. These restrictions are as follows:

  • Giving a free card is disadvantageous unless you have a strong hand.
  • A free card should only be given before the flop.
  • Giving a free card can become very complicated when you have more than a single opponent.

Vocabulary: ‘on the flop’

Many poker guides state that giving a free card enables a player to win the pot ‘on the flop’. What does this mean? The ‘flop’ means the second round of poker. You can recognise the flop in Texas Hold’Em poker very easily because this is the round in which three of the community cards (there are a total of five community cards) have been switched from the face down to the face up position. After the flop, if nobody has taken a pot, there will usually be another round. Subsequent rounds are called the ‘turn’ and the ‘river’. It is rare to see the river in a game of Texas Hold’Em as more often that not the pot will have been won by the time the players reach the ‘turn’.

A new tactic to add to your repertoire: free card poker play

When the time is right, you might like to try giving your opponent a free card. Memorise the requirements listed above to ensure that you use this strategy to your advantage rather than to the advantage of your opponent. Thereby, you can gain a strategic advantage and save money on your bankroll into the bargain.