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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Playing It Smart on the 'Turn' in Texas Hold'em

17 June 2006

The game of Texas Hold'em has four betting rounds. Your first bet comes right after seeing your hole cards. You bet again when you see the flop. You bet a third time when the dealer deals the "turn" card (fourth board card). Then you bet the fourth and final time on the "river" (fifth board card).

In "limit" Hold'em, the first two betting rounds are for the lower amount and the last two rounds are bet at the higher limit. In a $5/$10 game, for example, all bets and raises before the flop as well as on the flop are $5 apiece. On the turn and the river, all bets and raises are $10 each.

Tons of strategy has been written about the "do's and don'ts" of playing before the flop and on the flop in Hold'em. Beyond the flop, however, is where things get twice as expensive. That's where you need to make some very careful decisions. Yet, not very much strategy has been written about playing Hold'em on the "expensive streets" (the turn and the river), so let's touch on that here today.

Gutshot Straights: Lots of hands are worth a call on the flop that should be folded on the turn if they don't improve. For instance, say you've got 10/J in a $5/$10 game and the flop is 3-8-Q. Since the flop bet is still $5, it's usually proper to call one bet there in search of the inside 9 (an 11-to-1 shot). Remember, there will be those times when you pay your $5, miss on the turn and then everybody checks there. In those cases, you'll get to see two cards for five bucks. But if you miss on the turn and somebody bets the $10, you won't hit your inside straight often enough to cover that ten bucks. Now you've got to fold.

Double Gutters: Occasionally, with the exact hand above, the turn card will be an Ace. Now you can make a straight with either a 9 or a King – a "double gutshot". Instead of just four "outs" to your hand, you have eight. This time, as long as there's not already a pair on board or three to a suit, you can call the $10 turn bet on your 5-to-1 shot.

Second Pair: Another example is when you flop something like an A-10-4 to that same 10/J in the hole. If there's a bet, you're almost surely up against "top pair" with your "2nd pair" (you've paired the second highest card on board). But again, $5 was cheap enough to try to spike a 10 or a Jack on the turn (an 8-to-1 shot) giving you two pair or trips. If you blank out on the turn, though, it's not worth $10 to try for that "five-outer" (any one of two 10's or three Jacks) at the river.

Overturned: What about when you flop a 2-5-J to that 10/J in the pocket, giving you "top pair", and then an Ace comes on the turn? If there's a bet, what do you do? Now you have to consider the bettor and his position. If he's a solid type of player and seated in front of you, just give him credit for having an Ace and fold. If you've checked and the bettor is behind you, call a loose player, but surrender to a tighter opponent. Overall, lean towards folding.

Two Overcards: Finally, what if you're playing two real big cards such as A/K, A/Q or K/Q and the flop comes all undercards, like maybe 4-8-J? Paying $5 on the flop with your "six-outer" (a 7-to-1 shot) was an easy call. But what if the turn card is a "blank" (no help to you and no apparent help to others), like maybe an offsuit deuce? Can you call $10 to try for "top pair" at the river? This is tricky.

Before deciding, review these points. Is your position late enough that it won't get raised behind you? Was the flop two-suited, so that somebody might make a flush with the same card that improves your hand? Would hitting your card be liable to fill in somebody else's straight? If these answers all seem to be "No", then call – othewwise, fold!

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey