If you have been around poker for even a short period of time you will have heard about the importance of position. The main reason for this is that it allows you to see what all of your opponents want to do before you have to make a decision. This is a huge edge in a game of limited information. Another great reason to play more in position is it allows you to “buy a free card” with your more marginal hands.
To understand what I mean by this you must first realise that the general wisdom of poker is “check to the raiser” or “check to the aggressor” and these statements hold true in most hands played at a poker table. If you raise preflop most players will check to you when the flop comes down to see what you decide to do. If you bet the flop, the other players in the hand will check to you to see what you are going to do.
Using this information to your advantage we can “buy a free card”. For example we are on the button and called preflop with 5 6 of diamonds. This is a lovely hand to have in a multiway pot as there are so many ways to make disguised hands and win big pots. But it’s nice to be able to see all five cards sometimes instead of having to fold to a turn bet because you aren’t getting the correct odds to call to make your straight.
Now enter the power of buying a free card. To continue the above example, we have called a raise preflop with 5 6 of diamonds and the flop comes down 7c8cKd. We have flopped an up and down straight draw and a backdoor flush draw, so we would really like to see both the next two cards. The preflop raiser continues and bets half the pot. At this stage many players will just call. If you just call you are likely going to be facing another bet on the turn and may not be getting the correct odds to call. Instead you can buy a free card by raising the flop. Now the original preflop raiser may have missed the flop and just fold to this raise, which is great, you win the pot with 5 high. Or they just call and we continue to the turn which is a 2s which doesn’t help us at all. Fortunately we were the aggressor on the flop so the other player checks to us, now we can just check back and see a river card. Which is 4s, BINGO! We got there and made our straight and we can now bet for value and win a nice pot.
Doing this allows us to set our own price to see the river while also allowing us to win the pot right there if they fold. This is a great tip to use when you have a marginal hand and would like to see all the cards before you make and decisions for a lot of chips.