The turn is the most overlooked part of the poker hand. Most players lack a clear strategy for the turn and tend to stay committed to their hands until the river regardless of the turn card. By developing a strong strategy for the turn you can separate yourself from other players and become a lot more successful. By not giving one of the betting rounds your full attention you will leave a lot of money on the table and loose a lot of money you should not be loosing.
The turn is in many ways a continuation of the flop. The biggest difference is that the turn is a lot more important than the flop because there is more money on the table. You also have more information which allow you to play more aggressively.
It is important that you re-evaluate your play on the turn. A lot might have changed since the flop. The turn card can increase the number of different hands your opponents can hold. What looked like a strong hand can all of the sudden look a lot weaker. The betting might also have changed the pot odds to a point where it no longer is worth staying in the hand.
There are five different situation that you might find yourself in after the turn.
- You have a strong hand
- You do not have a strong hand but want to stay committed to a bluff.
- You have a mid value hand
- You hit your draw.
- You have a draw.
You have a strong hand
If you have a strong hand then the first thing you should do is to make sure that it is still strong. It is easy to fall in love with the hand you flopped and ignore the fact that it might not be as strong on the turn or river.
If your hand remains strong then you should continue to bet aggressively. Your goal should be to bet strong enough to force your opponents out of the hand. You want to provide them with negative pot odds to make sure that they will loose money over time even if they do call and hit their draws.
If you have the nuts you can choose to play the hand a little bit slower in the hope that one of the other players is going to hit a good hand. Do not do this if there is a live draw on the table. A draw that can create a hand that would beat your hand.
Committed to a bluff
It is usually not a good idea to fire a second bet at a pot where you have already been called down on the flop. It is better to try to get to see a free card that might improve your hand. The one exception from this is if you feel certain that your opponent will fold if you bet again.
Mid value hand
It is seldom a good idea to play a mid value hand too aggressively. It is usually a good idea to fold the hand if your opponent keeps playing aggressively. The exception from this rule is if you are convinced that your opponent is bluffing and firing a second time at the pot to get you to fold. A mid valued hand can be played slightly more aggressively if it is combined with a draw.
If a betting player choose to only check on turn than this can indicate that he has been bluffing. If this is the case then you might be in a good situation to make a bet large enough to win the pot.
You hit your draw
If you hit your draw than you can choose either to slow play the hand and allow some on else to bet it or just bet it yourself. If you are in a late position then you should almost always bet this type of hand to make sure that your opponents don’t get a free card. Your goal when you hit your draw should always be to try to get as much money into the pot as possible. Bet or slow play depending on what you feel will give you the best return.
You didn’t hit the draw
This is one of the most complex situation to play. How you play this hand should be based on two different factors. The pot odds and how your opponent plays.
If your opponent show strength then you should usually back down unless the pot odds are favoring a call. If the opponent is slowing down (such as after a continuation bet on the flop) the you should bet to benefit from the weakness of your opponent. It seldom a good idea to only check the turn unless you are playing in an early position.