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On the Turn – Theory
IntroductionIn this article
- Your possibilities on the turn
- Why to pursue your plan
- Set the course for the river
In this article, you will learn a few things about turn play. First and foremost, you should understand what the turn is actually all about, which decisive mistakes you should avoid, and which primary goals you should pursue.
The articles concerning flop play are important prerequisites to this article, as you should have already learned of the need for coming up with a plan for your hand which you should follow through with on the turn.
The Turn as Problem Child
Many players have their problems on the turn, and regard the 4th street as the biggest problem child. They often don't know what to do, and get carried away in unprofitable situations. How come?
Hold'em mainly lives from two factors:
- What does your opponent hold, or which cards could help him out?
- How big is the pot, and how much do you have to pay to move closer towards the showdown, or to improve your hand?
First and foremost, either you have a presentable hand and want to earn money with it; or you don't and want to get your opponent to fold. It's always a matter of the cards you and your opponent are holding, as well as the prices you have to pay for them.
On every other street, the circumstances are generally clear. Pre-flop and on the flop, you've usually hardly received any information about your opponent's hand, as the invested money for this was too little. A raise pre-flop usually costs 4 BBs, a continuation bet about 6 BBs. These bets are valuable in terms of what you can accomplish with them, but they aren't significant in light of your 100 BB stack.
On the river, the situation has changed. You have now received many pieces of information about the hand of your opponent. There won't be any more community cards, either. Either you are ahead, or you are behind. Naturally, this doesn't make your decision any easier. You have to ask yourself if your hand is good enough for a showdown. You'll have to decide if it is good enough to place a value bet, or so bad that you should give it up, or if you should try a bluff. In return, the river is certainly the most expensive street by far, simply because bets (or calls) are made in relation to the pot, which is now at its biggest.
The turn comes right in the middle, and unfortunately presents both problems at once. You still don't know where you stand, and draws are still possible (on both sides), as another card is still pending. Often enough, the pot has already reached a substantial size, so that decisions are costing larger amounts of money. You also have the river in the back of your mind, which is sure to be expensive.
Most mistakes are made within these problem areas. The most frequent one: You become too passive. You realize that you'll inflate the pot with a sizable turn bet, and that even a 2/3rd of the pot size bet on the river would be twice as big than if you had only checked.
Many players often decide for passive play. Not because they consider it to make sense from a strategic point of view, but because they are scared of moving into a too-highly inflated pot with an eventually marginal hand. Naturally, this results in an exploitable weakness, as your opponents could often take the pot themselves with their aggression. Another reason not to play too passively: you give out free cards and let your opponents play draws cheaply.
You should avoid this mistake. On the turn, you have to play the way you deem to be correct, and pay attention to pot control when it makes sense to do so. You should learn to become a good player who is not afraid of playing with his complete stack on the table and can do so to his strategic advantage.
You should be better than the average opponent, you want decisions on the turn, and on the river, to be expensive. As long as you are ahead on average, you will win more large pots over time.
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