Card scare in poker can work both ways

Our previous column on scare cards focused on situations where a scare card could benefit your opponent – not you.

You just worry when the card is distributed on the board. Example: once the Kings are dealt, you may be far ahead until Ace falls on his turn. We discuss the best way to handle such situations which occur quite often.

In this week’s column, let’s look at the opposite situation: the scare card falls on the board and can raise your hand to make it a winner. Your opponent recognizes this and becomes more cautious. In fact, Ace in turn doesn’t help your hand at all; but your opponent can only guess.

To them, this is a frightening card. Observe the expression on their faces as the card is placed on the board: What does it mean to “tell” you? Your best strategy right now is to try to convince them that Ace does make your hand. How you play your hand at this point can make all the difference; it can “buy” the pot for you. Much depends on your position and the type of opponent you are against.

Consider trying to bully them. Of course, fewer opponents in the pot are desired; the more that was left, the harder it would be to convince them all to discard their cards – thus handing the pot over to you. One or two will be fine. If not, plan to abandon that strategy.

If you are late, and the players are tight betting, it would be wise to discard your cards and keep a lot of chips. On the other hand, if a loose aggressive opponent (who is often deceptive and bluffing) opens a bet, don’t hesitate to call unless you observe a tell or other solid evidence that shows he has the “stuff”.

If you are in mid / early position, with three or fewer opponents left to act, you may be betting to be informed. Also, it might get you positioned at or near the button for the rest of the hand – to your advantage.

But if a tight player calls or raises your opening bet, it would be best to fold at that point. He undoubtedly has strong hands – quite possibly a pair of aces or better.

To the extent that you are trying to win bets by bluffing, it will be in your best interest to use all available bluffing strategies and tactics. Find out what your opponent is telling you; bet with confidence (you know you’ve caught the best); and use hearing aids – devices that highly recommend having strong hands.

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