What is a ‘Scare Card’?
A scare card is a card in the turn or river that could all of a sudden mean that your opponent now has a winning hand. Up until that card has been laid, you could have been feeling extremely confident that you had the best hand, but with the scare card down, your chances may have diminished quickly.
‘Scare Card’ Explained
Suppose you are dealt the Ace of Spades and the Ace of Clubs. The flop goes down and the 10 of Hearts, the Jack of Diamonds and the Ace of Hearts goes down. You are feeling pretty confident at this stage that you have the strongest hand and decide to raise with only the big blind and one other player calling you. The turn reveals the 4 of Diamonds. Still, you feel confident and raise again, with only you and the big blind remaining in at the end of this round of betting. Now comes the river and the King of Hearts goes down. Now take a look at what is down: 10h, Jd, Ah, 4d, Kh
That last King of Hearts represents a scare card for you. You are still now left with 3 of a kind Aces, but your opponent could have just won on the river. If he has two Diamonds or a Queen in his hand, this would beat your 3 of a kind. Now suppose the big blind, after seeing the river, decides to raise you. You now have to make a choice and decide whether he is merely bluffing or if he has got lucky and knows he’s won the hand due to this final card going down. Therefore here the King of Hearts has just presented itself as a major scare card to yourself.