Turn Strategy

Hand Guide: Preflop > Flop > Turn > River

Turn Strategy

Turn strategy overview.

The turn is a much forgotten about betting round that does not get nearly enough as much attention as it should. Most strategy articles seem to focus on playing the flop and river well, but leave out the turn and almost consider it to be a bridge between two more important streets.

However, turn strategy is actually a key part of any poker hand, as it is the point where the pot has usually grown to such a point from the preflop and flop betting rounds that you now will be making a decision about whether or not to commit yourself to the hand.

Most player have a decent strategy for the preflop and flop betting rounds, but have no real game plan for when the turn comes around.

The turn is almost like a continuation of the flop, but with the stakes raised a lot more. If you and your opponent have been betting correctly in previous betting rounds, you should find that any bets or plays you make on this street will commit a large portion of your stack into the middle. Therefore knowing whether to continue to fight for the hand or to let it go is a very important ability that no player should neglect.

Don't be afraid to let a hand go.

When playing the turn, it is important to stay focused and assess the strength of your hand. Many players have the problem of not being able to let the hand go because they feel that they have come so far in the hand, that is worth their while to continue to see the river. This is a terrible way to play and will cost you a lot of money if you are not able to make clear and educated decisions on the turn.

On the turn, you should be contemplating whether you are going to commit to the rest of the hand or not. It is not a good idea to muddle your way through the hand and hope for the best, so have a clear idea in your head about what you are going to do and be happy with it. You should be happy to fold a mediocre hand at this point, as you do not want to be committing a much larger amount of money to the pot with a hand that may well be second best. So learn to let go.

Always keep a clear strategy in your head for each stage of a hand and your decisions will become a lot easier.

Typical turn strategy situations.

When you find yourself at the turn, you will normally be in one of the following situations.

  1. You are continuing with a strong hand.
  2. You are continuing with a bluff.
  3. You called with a mediocre made hand.
  4. You called for a draw on the flop and missed.
  5. You called for a draw on the flop and hit.

1] You are continuing with a strong hand.

If you are at the turn with a strong hand, you should be looking to continue the action and bet if you feel that your opponent has not improved a possible draw. At this point you have probably not been given enough information to assume that your opponent has you beat, and so you should continue to make strong bets and lay down bad odds if they are on a draw.

If your opponent comes over the top of you and raises, you will have to reassess the strength of your hand and consider folding. Not many players will raise a bet on the turn unless they have a very strong hand themselves.

2] You are continuing with a bluff.

If you made a continuation bet on the flop and got called, you are in a very sticky situation indeed. You are now faced with a predicament of whether to fire a second barrel or to let the hand go. In most cases it is better to check and let the hand go to any action, hoping that you get to see a free river card.

Firing a second barrel is a dangerous play, and it is advised that only the more experienced players attempt this sort of bluff.

However, if you can be fairly sure that you can force your opponent to fold with a strong bet, it may be a good play to bet again on the turn. But again, the majority of the time it will be safer to let the hand go and save your money for another hand.

3] You called with a mediocre made hand.

If you called on the flop with a half decent hand like middle pair, you were essentially calling to see how your opponent reacts on the turn. Therefore you should look to fold the hand if your opponent continues to show strength, and look to bet if your opponent checks to you and shows weakness.

Your opponent may have been making a continuation bet on the flop and is now shutting down because of your call on the flop, so now you are in a prime position to take down the pot. This is known as a ‘float play’, and it can be made with any two cards as a bluff to pick off continuation bettors.

4] You called for a draw on the flop and missed.

If you missed your draw on the turn, you should roughly use the same strategy on this street as you did on the flop. Your odds to complete your draw will almost be exactly the same, so try and get to see the river for as cheaply as possible. It is less likely that you will be given the correct odds at this point to call for your draw, so it is probable that you will need to fold your draw at this point unless you feel you have mammoth implied odds to play on in an attempt to complete your draw.

Never feel committed to call large bets on the turn to try and complete your draw. Stick with the mathematics and only call if you are getting good odds.

5] You called for a draw on the flop and hit.

If you were lucky enough to hit your draw on the turn, you are now in the mode to try and extract as much money as possible. If you are first to act, betting or checking as both acceptable plays, and you should choose the one that you think would make you the most money.

I would lean toward betting to make sure I was forcing the action and making sure that I gave my opponent to put money into the pot. If you are last to act then it is almost imperative to bet, otherwise you will be missing out on an opportunity to build the pot. If your opponent isn't going to put any more money in at this point, then it is unlikely that will be putting any money in on the river either, so make sure you try and extract as much money as possible.

Other turn strategy tips.

You should try and think about your turn decision whilst you are making your play on the flop. It is a good idea whilst on the flop to think “Okay, so if I make this play now, what will I do on the turn?” By asking yourself this question you will find yourself making more educated moves on the flop, and not feeling so lost when you get to the turn.

Useful turn strategy articles:

Go back to the thorough hand guide.

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