Playing the turn in Texas Hold’em
The turn is effectively a standout among the Texas Hold’em poker streets.
Everything appears much simpler to label it as some pointless wagering round in the middle of the flop and the river, but there’s more to it than this – much more.
The turn is similarly as significant as any of the other betting rounds and requires a strong strategy, as well as a careful approach, to make it successful.
The turn deserves just as much effort as any other street. If you incorporate this into your game, you will have already taken your play to the next level. The turn should be analyzed just like everything other action – how did your opponent(s) react to the card, how might it help them based on their previous bet/response at the flop, is it better for you or your opponent.
On the off chance that you can truly consider every one of these points, you will improve your basic leadership aptitudes. So, whenever you are on the turn, rather than shutting your eyes and seeking after the best, snatch the bull by the horns and begin considering the cards and how to best play the hand.
When acting first on the turn, if you are confident in your hand, bet it out. This will not only build the pot, but gives you a chance, based on the previous rounds, to determine if your opponent is facing bad odds and/or is fishing for a better hand.
However, if you know you have a losing hand, check and be ready to fold. Again, monitor your opponent’s reactions and be prepared to act accordingly. A continuation bet on the flop may tempt you into making a similar bet now, but you could end up losing the pot if you’re not careful.
If you have a drawing hand and there’s no obvious flush or straight draw, a bet on the turn is going to look suspicious. Check through and hope that the pot odds stay with you if your opponent decides to bet.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re winning, the decision is more difficult. A good rule of thumb in poker is to not allow yourself to get into this predicament but, if you’re there, check and hope that your opponent does the same.
If you have to act last and you’re confident in your hand, you have a couple of options. If your opponent check, you bet and if he or she bets, you raise. Try to make the most out of the hand to sweeten the pot and your stack.
If you know you have the losing hand, check if possible and fold if your opponent bets. You could try to bluff your way through the hand, but the previous bets and your opponent’s skill level will determine if this is appropriate.
If you’re drawing, there are a couple of options. If you didn’t bet on the flop, don’t bet here – check and let the board play out. If you bet on the flop, though, a continuation bet could be in order. This will give your opponent the opportunity to fold, but will also allow you to gauge the reaction to determine how to play on the river.
If you’re not sure if you have the winning – or the losing – hand, check to get a free look at the river card. A bluff will not have produced any positive results, so play it safe and get a free card.
As with any action at the felt, there are a lot of different factors that have to be considered when betting on the turn. Each situation will call for a different reaction, but these tips will give a good foundation upon which to build.