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StrategyFixed Limit

How to play the turn and river

Do you have the initiative?

In this article
  • With or without the initiative?
  • Keep up the action with good hands
  • Draws on the river are worthless

By now you have become acquainted with the strategy for the first two betting rounds. But the battle isn't over yet as two more rounds lie ahead of you, the Turn and the River. How you play in these rounds will be explained now.

The best way to play depends, among other things, on what you have done after the flop. Did you set the pace or are you on the defensive?

You have the initiative

To have the initiative means that you were the last player to bet or raise post-flop. You set the tone and signalled a strong hand.

You do not have the initiative

The opposite is true if in the previous round another player was the last to bet or raise. This player now has the initiative.

Video: Fixed Limit - Playing the turn and river
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Watch the video

You can also watch the content of this article in video format. Simply click the picture in order to open the video.

You should still read the article to ensure that you have understood the strategy completely. Your bankroll will be grateful.

How do you play on the turn?

Now things become a bit more complicated. The following chart summarizes the entire strategy for the turn round. Let's get to the strategy. It looks like a lot, but with a little bit of experience it will soon become second nature, so don't worry.

Nobody has bet yet and you have the initiative

You bet with ...

  • any made hands like top pair or better.

  • draws, if you have 2 opponents at most.

You check with ...

  • draws, if you have more than 2 opponents (to eventually call another bet).
  • any other hand.

EXAMPLE 1
Before the flop - 10 players
You are in middle position with
  • Everyone before you has folded.
  • You raise.
  • 4 players call the raise.
On the flop - active players: 5
  • Everyone before you checks.
  • You bet.
  • 3 players call the bet, one folds.
On the turn - active players: 4
  • There is a check before you.
  • It's your turn..

You raise with KQo before the flop. The flop brings you an OESD and you bet as per the strategy. Three players call the bet.

The turn doesn't improve your hand. Since you still have 3 opponents, you should not bet any more in this situation, despite your initiative.

It'd be better to check and then possibly call a bet, just to see, if you eventually end up hitting a straight or a pair on the river.

With only one or two opponents you should bet again, because you have a good draw and might even get both opponents to fold on the turn.

Nobody has bet yet and you don't have the initiative

You bet with ...

  • a two-pair or better.

You check with ...

  • any other hand.

EXAMPLE 2
Before the flop - 10 players
You are in late position with
  • A player raises.
  • Another calls.
  • You call.
On the flop - active players:3
  • The player who raised, checks.
  • The one after him bets.
  • You raise.
  • The player who raised before the flop, folds.
  • The other, who bet, raises once more.
  • You call.
On the turn - active players: 2
  • The player before you bets.
  • It's your turn now...

Not exactly an easy situation. On the flop, you hit a top pair with a gutshot. The player who originally raised, decides to drop out of the hand, but the other opponent bets and re-raises your raise.

He bets on the turn. You call this bet. Maybe you're beaten, and maybe you're ahead. Your gutshot is somewhat helpful. Your cards are too strong to fold and to weak to raise. That is why, you call.

Someone makes a bet before you

You raise with ...

  • a two pair or better.

You call with ...

  • top pairs or overpairs.
  • monster draws, flush draws, OESDs (or double belly busters).
  • gutshots, if you are getting 10:1 pot odds (if the pot contains at least 10 times the amount of your bet).

You fold with ...

  • any other hand.

EXAMPLE 3
Before the flop - 10 players
You are in middle position with
  • Everyone before you folds.
  • You raise.
  • Both players in the blinds call.
On the flop - active players: 3
  • The Small Blind player bets.
  • The Big Blind calls.
  • You raise.
  • Both opponents call.
On the turn - active players: 3
  • The Small Blind checks.
  • The Big Blind bets.
  • It's now your turn...

Not a great situation. On the flop, one player bets into you. That's called a donkbet. You, wth your overpair, obviously raise.

The player who only called passively on the flop, bets on the turn. It's best to just call here. You aren't necessarily beaten here, but you won't be doing yourself any favours with a raise, because that would make any weaker hands fold, and stronger hands will be provoked into action.

This playing principle will be looked at more closely in more advanced articles.

Someone made a bet and one or more raises follow

You raise with ...

  • a two-pair or better, if you believe you have the best hand considering the community cards.

You call with ...

  • a two-pair or better, if you do not believe you have the best hand considering the community cards.

You fold with ...

  • any other hand.

If there is action after you...

The previous section was about how to deal with opponents who act before you. But there are also players acting after you. Depending on what they do, you'll have future decisions awaiting you.

The system our Fixed Limit experts have worked out refers to different strategies depending on how many more bets are made after you. If nobody bets or raises, the situation is clear and the betting round is over.

However if you check and someone bets after you, or you bet and there's one more raise, the additional input is 1 big bet. The first section: EXACTLY ONE MORE BET IS MADE AFTER YOU deals with all these situations.

But what if you check and there is a bet and a raise after you? Or what if you bet or raise and there are two more raises after you? In this instance check the second section: MORE THAN ONE BET IS MADE AFTER YOU.

Exactly one more bet is made after you

You raise with ...

  • a two pair or better.

You call with ...

  • top pairs or overpairs.
  • monster draws, flush draws, OESDs (or double belly busters).
  • gutshots, if you are getting 10:1 pot odds (if the pot contains at least 10 times the amount of your bet).

You fold with ...

  • any other hand.

EXAMPLE 4
Before the flop - 10 players
You are in late position with
  • Everyone before you folds.
  • You raise.
  • 2 players call.
On the flop - active players: 3
  • You bet.
  • Both oppnents call.
Ont he turn - active players: 3
  • You bet.
  • Then an opponent raises.
  • The other opponent folds.
  • Now it's your turn...

On the flop, you used your initiative to bluff bet, which didn't work, as both opponents called your bet.

The turn brings you a top pair, you bet, and one of your opponents raises. From here on out you should only call.

If you had two-pair or better, then you could carry on raising. With a weaker  hand, e.g. K8, you should fold.

More than one bet is made after you

You raise with ...

  • a two pair or better, if you believe you have the best hand considering the community cards.

You call with ...

  • a two pair or better, if you do not believe you have the best hand considering the community cards.
  • monster draws, flush draws
  • OESDs and double belly busters, if no flush is possible.

You fold with ...

  • any other hand.

EXAMPLE 5
Before the flop - 10 players
You are in early position with
  • You raise.
  • 3 players call.
On the flop - active players: 4
  • You bet.
  • 2 players call.
On the turn - active players: 3
  • You bet.
  • One opponent raises.
  • Then another opponent raises.
  • It's your turn now.
Of course you should bet on the turn, because you often find yourself ahead. But with 2 raises after you, you could well already be beaten. On the other hand, your opponents could also be holding hands like overpair or two-pair and additionally, you also have the chance of winning a full-house against a flush or a straight, as long as the river brings the community cards a pair.

So, you call.

How do you play on the river?

An essential and obvious change to consider on the river is that your hand can no longer improve. Drawing hands are therefore relatively worthless. If, for example, you bet on the flop and on the turn and your opponent calls consistently, it's improbable that your bluff will lead him to fold his hand on the river.

Strategy for play on the river is concise and again makes the distinction between you having the initiative or not, i.e.: if you were the last to bet or raise on the turn.

You have the initiative

  • You bet with any made hand.
  • If someone raises after you and it is possible that he has a better hand considering the community cards, you should call the raise. If you are confident that you hold the best hand, you can raise even further.
  • If an opponent bets before you, you raise with two-pair or better, unless it's likely that there's a better hand. If so, you should only call.
  • If you don't have a made hand, you check and muck your cards if an opponent bets.
Example 6
Before the flop - 10 players
You are in late position with
  • Everyone before you folds.
  • You raise.
  • Both blinds players call.
On the flop - active players: 3
  • Both opponents check.
  • You bet.
  • Both opponents call.
On the turn - active players: 3
  • Both opponents check.
  • You bet.
  • Both opponents call.
On the river - active players: 3
  • Both opponents check.
  • You bet.
  • The player in Small Blind raises.
  • The Big Blind player folds.
  • It's now your turn...

On the river you will want to bet again, with your top pair. The community cards look relatively safe and it would be too weak of you not to bet here.

That a player then raises, is of course not such good news, because it usually means that he has a better hand. However, it doesn't mean that often enough for you to get overly concerned about it here. That is why you should just go right ahead and call any bet and see the showdown.

You don't have the initiative

  • You bet if you hit a top pair on the river. If someone raises after you, or bets before you, you call. If you have to pay more than one bet, like if someone makes a bet before you and there is a subsequent raise, you should fold.
  • If you call with a top pair or overpair on the flop or the turn, you could also call an eventual bet on the river. If several opponents show strength by betting/raising, you are more often than not behind and should fold.
  • You bet or raise with two-pair or better, if no better hand is likely on the table. Otherwise, you only call.
  • If you don't have a made hand, you check and muck your cards if an opponent bets.

EXAMPLE 7
Before the flop - 10 players
You are the Small Blind with
  • 2 players call.
  • You call.
  • The player in the Big Blind checks.
On the flop - active players: 4
  • You bet.
  • The Big Blind raises.
  • The other players fold.
  • You call.
On the turn - active players: 2
  • You check
  • Your opponent bets.
  • You call.
On the river - active players: 2
  • Now it's your turn...

Up until the bet on the flop you played your flush draw passively. The river doesn't bring a flush either, but it does give you a top pair. The best move right now would be to bet against your opponents. If they raise, you should call.

EXCEPTION  
If you have a pair on the river, even if it isn't the top pair or better, and you only have one opponent, you should call his bet.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have now almost completed the beginner lessons. You now know which cards to play and which to keep after the flop. You also know how to play them in the second betting round on the flop,the turn and the river.

But there is still one very important matter that we need to address, without which no poker player will ever make it anywhere: the bigger picture. To play the cards well is one thing, but the game is all about increasing your poker balance!

What you now need to learn is Bankroll Management. What this is and how you will find your own way in the world of online poker is treated in the last article of this section: Bankroll management – How do you go your own way?

 

Comments (18)

#1 styc0, 15 Apr 08 18:34

fdf

#2 rares200012000, 28 Apr 08 14:23

lala

#3 Kleto, 09 May 08 15:26

good article

#4 nezinomas, 25 May 08 11:24

goood article , many important information for begginers

#5 washus, 26 May 08 16:34

In the example of section "Exactly one more bet is made behind you", the example raises KJs preflop without any calls, but the SHC says KJs should be folded in middle position if all players folded. Which is right?

#6 mouse89, 28 Sep 08 15:26

ok

#7 haave89, 02 Jan 09 16:56

n1

#8 PokerRoad, 23 Jul 09 15:19

If you have the initiative going to the turn , No 1 has bet - would you still bet an OESD if there were 3 or 4 to a flush on the bord (you just cant bet there imo)

#9 soarq, 11 Aug 09 16:08

I'm confused with terms two pair & two pairs. In my understanding on the flop Monster hand includes two pair BUT NOT two pairs.

On turn it's told that we should bet without initiative with two pairs or better hand. Two pairs or two pair? I'm confused.

There's same confusion when we bet/raise without initiative, if someone bets before or ahead of us.

Can anyone make the record straight?

#10 soarq, 11 Aug 09 16:09

I meant on turn we should bet with initiative with two pairs or better hand according to this guide, of course.

#11 dpermana, 21 Jun 10 13:43

the best articles.....ty

#12 1raindog1, 28 Jun 10 18:56

Under the heading "Nobody has bet yet and you don't have the initiative" for the turn it says "On the turn - active players: 2 -
* The player before you bets."

That seems to be contradictory, does it?

#13 alexgelman, 05 Sep 10 15:07

Can someone please clarify the following for me: It says that if you have initiative you bet with any made hand on the river. Does this mean to bet top pair and better or any pair made on the river?

#14 grimble, 03 Nov 10 01:28

Can someone please answer a question for the river section: what to do without initiative when a strong hand was hold (came from the turn) and the pot was not raised yet?
The strategy says here "you could also call an eventual bet". Does it mean you should check if there was no bet before?

#15 Dawgwath, 03 Jan 11 10:46

@alexgelman: Only if you hit a top pair or better and you don't necessarily have to have the initiative. If you get raised, you just call. With a pair made on the river you just check or call a bet.

@grimble: what do you mean by "strong hand was hold (came from the turn)"? If it is your hand that improved then you should definitely raise, probably even re-raise if you think you have the best hand. But if you think that someone else's hand might have improved into a strong hand, then you should just check and eventually call a bet on the river.

#16 arturs2148RNMD, 08 Mar 13 15:38

nice

#17 Rthai, 02 Apr 13 03:06

Excited to start playing! I am gonna read the article about bankroll management first though.

#18 Ntobek4Kwazi, 10 May 13 08:47

okey guys tis is really great,huh?

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