One concept I have started to take onboard after doing some study is the difference between seeing 3 cards and 5.



I started paying attention when opponents played and a full showdown occured. Just how valuable are those last 2 cards?


Here is a hand I witnessed :

Big stack limps UTG, SB who is short shoves and the Big stack calls.

Big stack shows

Short stack shows


Flop comes

Turn comes

River comes


So lets see what could have happened if the short stack had more chips. Likely he would have raised with , and the hand may have called.

If he did, AQ would have been first to act and with the lead, two strong overcards, a backdoor flush draw and a gutshot, I can't see AQ not c-betting.

So as KT, what do you do? You have nothing here and you may have to fold.

Then say you don't, you float the C-bet and see a Ten on the turn, you are now ahead.


Now what do you do as AQ? Your C-bet failed to induce a fold but you improved a little with a Flush Draw - its a tough spot and now that 5th card is so valuable to you because it holds salvation or a big pit of nothing.

If you are AQ, you would have prefered to see 5 cards but its unlikely you will.


There are some spots (combining hand strength, position, stack size, opponent and opportunity) where you really want to be seeing more than just 3 cards.

A pair plays well with 3 cards, you can judge if you are ahead or behind quite easily with gaguing overpairs, draw possibilities and bet sizing.

A draw however plays poorly with 3 cards, you need to pay to see further cards and your resolve to continue drawing is dependant on the situation.

If you have a monster, well that just plays itself - no concern there



So forgetting about how important it is for you to see 5 cards, how important is it for your opponent?

Is he the kind of player that calls a lot with unpaired cards preflop? - if so, then seeing 5 cards for him is very valuable because he is on a draw, he needs to improve from the flop onwards or a simple 22 can beat him


Here is some maths, taken from  :

Since a flop in Texas Holdem is equivilant to a 5 card stud hand and to the river is considered the equivilant to a 7 card stud hand, we can use those numbers.


So assuming a pair is good enough for you  you will get that around 42%. If you want better than a pair, you have upto a 49% (about 7% more) to make a better hand.

Doesn't look good does it? 42% to make a pair seems nice but you only have another 7% chance to get something better... since we know that a pair (especially a weak one) is nothing much to sing about and will rarely win you a big pot, our chances of flopping a flush for example are 0.2%!!

So what happens when we consider all 5 cards?

Well now, and assuming we want more than a High card, we have only marginally improved our chances of getting a pair from 42% to 43%, the chances of us getting anything at all better than a high card is about 82% now... so you see the difference 2 cards make? We now went from 49% to 82% in the chance to hit any hand of a pair or better!

A flush also looks better with 5 cards because it goes from 0.2% to 3%

NOTE : The pair you can hit ALSO includes board pairs, so its not that you will hit a pair and your opponent won't, it is that both of you will and counterfeits any advantage that gives you. So whilst the maths are quite applicable from Stud to Holdem, the practicallity when you share cards means that the advantage you get can't be directly applied to the 42%/43% numbers since a good number of those are counterfeit. ---- So if we are behind to a pair preflop, flopping a board pair does put us ahead +1 spot but it puts our opponent ahead +1 too.


So the point behind the above numbers and the conclusion I am coming to is that there is MASSIVE value in your opponent seeing cards when you are ahead. Its not just that he can outdraw you, thats too simplistic, its that his odds of winning go up a lot just by seeing another card.

I don't like just refering to seeing more cards as outdrawing someone, the concept seems to suggest that it is luck and its complete randomness if someone finds that dream card.

I prefer to look at it as someone is gaining value by seeing more cards. The price they get to see those cards at diminishes the value they can receive and will deter them from taking that risk. If they believe they have to pay $100 to make $1000, its an easy decision. If they have to pay $800 to make $1000, all of a sudden its a harder choice.


Another aspect of this concept is that certain players will play in a quite inelastic way and with certain cards will call no matter what comes out. These guys (even if it is subconciously) appreciate the value of seeing all 5 cards however they will rarely have the poker ability to judge the cost of seeing those cards, these are your typical fish and if you know they will pay to see 5 cards no matter the price, turn that price up.

These guys will of course take advantage of their increased probabilities of pulling out a hand however they are relying on hitting ANYTHING, not just something that can beat your cards so they will catch a hand about 82% of the time if they stick in by the river, there is no guarantee it is a winner though.

For this reason, its of course stupid to bluff these players because 82% of the time, they have a pair or better and unless you have something to challenge that, its spewy to try to take the pot from them at that point.


So in conclusion :

Against players who call a lot, your average Fish, make them pay to see all 5 cards and if you do, make sure you have a hand to challenge them since they have a big chance of catching just a pair by the river. If you want these guys off a hand, you need to start at the flop and you need to bet enough to push them off.

The players that don't fit into the fish category but like to call preflop a lot, a c-bet is usually enough to push these guys off and if you do feel like they are drawing, again just with the fish, charge a high price for every street.


We have all had that River spot where the River brings a painful change of fortune... Its exciting sometimes and heartbreaking in other times but hammers home the value of having all 5 cards available to you, wherever possible you want the maximum amount of cards available to yourself and the minimum to your opponent. If your opponent does get to see all 5 cards, you want to make him work for it.


It is like Running the Gauntlet


If your opponent gets to the other side, there is a big treasure chest and perhaps his key opens it, perhaps it doesn't... but regardless, you made him work for it.

Otherwise... all you leave him with is this

An open field where at the end of it, the same big treasure chest and same chance his key could open the contents but he got there free of charge, at no penalty or risk and no fear... with no chance of him wanting to run back in the other direction.