When playing poker you have a number of options after each card or set of cards are dealt. You can bet, check or raise. When betting or raising you are not getting a card for free as you have placed a wager but by checking a hand to see what your opponents intend on doing you could end up with a free card that may improve your hand. The risk of checking is that your opponent will bet and force you to act. If you have a weak hand and are looking for a free card they may make you pay to see it but should they not then you get a free card as it hasn’t cost you anything extra in order to see the next card out.
When your hand is weak then the free card is a good one to try to get however if your hand is strong allowing a free card to come into play is not a strategic move as it could potentially put your opponent in a better position than you after that card is dealt. When faced with a situation that you have a strong hand then it is better to bet, if even a small amount in order to gain a feel of where your opponent is at that stage of the hand. If you are facing an open ended straight or potential flush after the flop you should be willing to place a bet even with the risk of being raised. It could mean your hit a straight and then be faced with a flush but it is the correct move to make. It is also good to bet with a lower pair on the flop as a hand with 5 cards to come can improve it. The risk again of a straight or flush could be there so betting small is ideal in this situation. You can check for the free card in this situation as well.
If you are dealt the top pair after the flop or have an over pair you should bet out after the flop if it appears you have the better hand. There are some exceptions like seeing a lot of raising after the flop or if you have been checked and then raised by an opponent. It is best not to check to a player who raised preflop as it is likely they will force your position and you will then have to fold or call their raise. There are situations where getting a free card can be difficult and are a risk to play a wait and see type game.
The Risk of waiting:
The risk of waiting for a free card can be a good strategy to use but it can also apply when you are favored to win the hand and want others to think you are weak and therefore play aggressively against you with the intent to try to force you out of the hand. This often causes those players to remain in the hand as they are invested into it. Your position could only strengthen with the other cards to follow and could see you taking down a larger pot as a result.