Scare Cards in Poker

A ‘scare card’ is the name given to a card that is either delivered on Fourth or Fifth Street, which strengthens your opponent’s perceived range at the expense of your own. 

The most common cards that are referred to as scare cards are generally over cards to the board, but dependant on the flow of the action; straight and flush making cards can also constitute a ‘scare card.’

In an example taken from an online poker site: you are playing in a 200nl six-max cash game online. A player in the cutoff raises to $6 and you call on the button holding [Qd] [Td]. The flop is [8s] [9d] [2c] and you both check. The turn is the [Ac] and your opponent bets $14. 

What do you do? This is a classic example of an over card being used as a scare card. Your opponent is going to bet at the sight of this card a large percentage of the time. 

If you go through his or her likely range of hands, the very best hand they can have is a set or ace-king. 

Two pair combinations would have likely bet the flop, meaning they very likely have an ace type hand with a weak kicker or a random hand.

Given the information you have, you now turn to the opponent and evaluate their style. If the player is a weak player, then they may not give up their weak type aces and so you might just have to fold your trash. 

You could raise to fold out his random air type hands, but folding is fine. Against a thinking player, a raise in this spot is very difficult to play against. If your opponent calls, then it is time to wave the white flag and surrender the pot.