How to Play on the Turn & River
At this stage of the hand, we should now have a pretty good idea of our opponents betting patterns, and should be aware of the texture of the community cards.
With all this information we should be forming a decent picture of what range of hands our opponent could have and deciding whether we are in the lead at this stage or not.
How to Play the Turn
After the Turn we can now see 6 cards (2 in our hand and 4 community cards). We have already been through two betting rounds with our opponent(s) and have had plenty of time to analyse the flop and consider the range of hands our opponents may be holding.
The Turn is usually an understated street, but it is also a time where you can consolidate your position in the hand and it’s important you understand how to play here.
Again it’s impossible to consider ever scenario, but lets look at a few common ones and discuss the options and best actions available to us.
When we think we are in the lead
If you think you have the best hand at this stage, I would almost never give a free River card to your opponent. Either make your opponent pay to see the river, or make him fold and take the pot there and then.
Don’t play fancy tricks on the Turn, play it straight and be aggressive. Bet for value in an attempt to build the pot up.
With an extra card out on the board, there is more chance your opponent may be on a draw, so check the texture carefully and if any draws are on, make sure your opponent is made to pay above the odds if he wants to see another card.
When a Scare Card Hits
Scare cards can be scary – hence the name! Suddenly your not so sure if you are in the lead any more, alarm bells start to ring and your pulse starts to rise. Well first thing is to remain calm and think rationally about what has just happened and how it affects you.
Remember a scare card can also be scary for your opponent. Think about the card that has just come, and work out whether you think it has helped your opponent, does it fit in with his betting patterns e.g.: An Ace comes on the Turn, which suddenly beats your pocket kings, your opponent raised before the flop and has continued to be aggressive – is he holding an ace – unfortunately there is a good chance he is holding an ace in his hand.
- If I took the lead after the Flop – goal now is to keep the pot as low as possible from now on, so you should check or call reasonable bets, faced with a large bet you may have to consider folding if you think you may be beat.
- If your opponent took the lead after the Flop – chances are your opponent is worried about the Scare card also so you have the option now to try and re take the lead and try and force opponent out of pot by being aggressive (even if the scare card hasn’t helped me).
Taking Down a Large Pot
When pot is large and you feel you have the best hand it is quite often worth attempting to take the pot there and then without further risk from the river, so you would Overbet here in an attempt to put maximum pressure on your opponent and take the pot.
How to Play the River
Now, on the River, we have seen all the cards and should have a good indication of where we stand at this point and what cards our opponent may be holding.
Once again, lets look at a few scenarios and options we may be faced with on the River.
How is our Opponent Acting?
As we’ve done all through the hand, the first thing we are going to do is look at betting patterns, to try and work out what our opponent is up to.
- Someone playing a hand very weak suddenly comes to life on the river – Smells Fishy – sense a bluff
- Someone playing a hand very aggressively gets timid after the river – sense a trap
- Someone who has played both aggressively and tentatively in the hand – Sense insecurity – probably hold a medium strength hand
- If a player bets after a River card that couldn’t have helped his hand – put him on a bluff.
I Hold the Nuts
Good position to be in, but the challenge now is to earn as much out of this winning hand as possible. You should value bet here, which means you should bet an amount which you think is just low enough for your opponent to call.
The only exception here is against an aggressive player or a player who bluffs a lot, in which case we can earn more money by check-raising (checking in the hope of inducing a bet from your opponent which you can then raise).
Don’t worry if your bet leads to your opponent folding, they may have called a smaller bet, but the chances are that their hand was not good enough to hold up and they would of folded to any bet, or if given the chance just checked to see a showdown.
We’ll play all our strong hands in a similar fashion to the nuts by making a value bet in the hope that we get a call from our opponent.
Medium Strength Hand
The problem here is that even if we think there is a good chance we are in the lead, we cannot be confident of it.
The key here is not to bet when you are out of position. When you bet out of position with a medium strength hand, then you will only get called by a hand that beats you. Anybody holding a weaker hand than yours, will almost certainly fold to any bet.
The only way you can extract more money from a hand you are beating (which is pretty weak considering you are only holding a medium strength hand) is to check and try and induce a bluff from your opponent.
If you have a hand that can only win with a bet that forces your opponent to fold then piece together the story and decide if a bluff is a good move to try and take the pot:
- Has your opponent showed any weakness in the hand? Higher probability they will fold to our bluff.
- Was the River a likely scare card to your opponent?
Poker Bankroll Challenge: Stage 6
- Stakes: $0.02/$0.04
- Buy In: $4 (100 x BB)
- Starting Bankroll: $83
- Target: $20 (5 x Buy In)
- Finishing Bankroll: $103
- Estimated Sessions: 5
Continue to practise everything you have learned so far. We have now covered how to play a full hand from start to finish and you should now know what to look for on each street, and what options are available in various scenarios. This will only improve with practise now as you experience more and more situations and add them to your memory bank