How to Play the Turn

Playing the Turn in Texas Holdem

Regardless of what happened on the flop, the turn can be a really tricky situation depending on what type of board you’re looking at and how many players are in the hand.  One thing that I will say now is that there isn’t a uniform strategy for playing the turn. It will depend entirely on the type of opponents that you have in the hand and your previous reads on them.  For instance, if you know that they c-bet the flop 90% of the time then they could have easily of missed.  If they play TAG and have a VPIP% below 15% then you can rely on them throwing away marginal hands from UTG and early position.  They’re probably always throwing away such hands. Remember that if they open-raised from UTG and bet on the flop too, then they probably having something shaping up like TPTK or overcards on a K-10-7 type board.  If it’s a LAG on the other hand, then even from early position their hand range will be much harder to narrow down by the turn.  They could have practically anything – top pair, pockets, mid-pair, flush draw, air etc, and even if they 3bet they could have been 3betting light from late position with QKo or mid pocket pairs which aren’t exactly premium holdings.  Again, this is why it’s best to have a good read on opponents by taking notes or using a heads up display.

If you c-bet the flop and then missed the turn again then you should consider double-barrelling.  The majority of the time you will fold all of the marginal Ax/Kx overcars, mid-pairs and missed draw type hands that they were willing to call you down lightly with on the flop.  They won’t do anymore though, unless of course you have a big reputation for double barrelling and bluffing.  Even then however it is still highly unlikely for an opponent to float you to the river and try and catch you out.  Double barrelling the turn is especially profitably when you’re in position and someone has checked in front of you showing some weakness.  Good cards to double barrel are those that bring a higher card to the board, improving your perceived holding and equity.

Semi-Bluffing the Turn

If you called the flop, and then picked up extra equity on the turn, for example picking up a gut shot straight draw with QK on 10-4-4-9, then you should be more willing to check-raise or semi-bluff the board out of position.  You shouldn’t be doing this all of the time, but by semi-bluffing in these situations you give yourself a greater chance of winning chips whilst also improving your implied odds for hitting your straight.  In this situation, you have 6 outs for hitting top pair and 4 outs for hitting a gut shot straight, giving you 10 outs or 21% equity in total.  This is more than enough to be semi-bluffing with.  If we imagine that you fold equity is 30% (i.e. you will win the pot 1/3 times by betting the turn) then in total your equity 51%.  This means that any chips you put into the pot at the moment will increase you amount that you win in the long term.

The same can be said for bluffing flush draws with mid-pair or overcards on the turn.  Your flush draw (as long as you’re convinced that your opponent doesn’t have a better draw) gives you enough equity to be bluffing with here, and if you miss everything on the river then you can block bet or check/check your opponent to see a cheap showdown.

Related posts:

  1. How to Play the Flop