Texas Holdem Poker Strategy – Playing the Turn Card

There have been many articles written about how to play your cards pre-flop and also after the flop but few detail how your cards should be played in the other betting rounds – playing the turn card.

This article is based around making the correct play or poker strategy when playing the turn card which takes place in the third round of betting in a hand of Texas Holdem poker.

The turn is more expensive than the previous rounds of betting when playing poker and especially in No Limit Holdem you’ll need to commit much more to the pot to stay in the hand so it makes sense to have some idea of how best to play these rounds.

First off lets have a quick look and where the turn card comes into play and the amounts of money involved. If you’re not a beginner then you can skip the next few paragraphs.

As a quick overview, lets examine the rounds of cards dealt in a game of Texas Holdem rules. First you will be dealt two cards called the hole cards and a round of betting or folding takes place. Then the three card flop is dealt. Following this, one card is dealt for the  turn and finally the river card is laid on the table.

In a game of limit Texas Holdem poker, in this example we’ll say a $2/$4 game, the first two betting rounds, either betting or raising, are for $2 and the last two are for $4. You can see from this that the betting on the turn and river cards is more expensive and you’ll have to be confident if you want to continue.

Playing the Turn Card Poker Strategy

We’ll have a look at the hands you may have now and how they should be played after the turn card is dealt.

Gutshot Straights: Lots of hands are worth a call on the flop that should be folded on the turn if they don’t improve. Let’s say you’ve got 9/10 in a $2/$4 game and the flop is 3-7-J. Since the flop bet is still $2, it’s usually the correct decision to call one bet as you look for the 9 (the odds of hitting a 9 are 11 to 1).

Remember, there will be those times when you pay your $2, miss on the turn and then everybody checks there. In those cases, you’ll get to see two cards for five dollars. But if you miss on the turn and somebody bets the $4, you won’t hit your inside straight often enough to cover that ten dollars. Now you’ve got to fold.You might also bet your $2 and get re-raised, in this case the other player probably has a made hand and it’s best to fold.

Double Gut Shot Draws: Sometimes, with the exact hand above, the turn card will be an King. Now you can make a straight with either a 8 or a Queen making a double gutshot draw. Instead of just having four “outs” to make your hand, you now have eight. This time, as long as there’s not already a pair on board or three suited cards, you should call the turn bet for $4, it’s a 5 to 1 play.

Second Pair: When the flop comes K-9-3 to that same 9/10 in the hole. If there’s a bet made by another player then the chances are that they have the top pair.

Your second pair probably won’t cut it but $2 maybe cheap enough to play to the turn card, obviously take your opponents playing sytle into account. You may hit two pairs or a triple set of 9s but if you the turn card isn’t enough to build the strenght of your hand then it’s not worth risking a $4 bet chasing the straight. The chances are just too low of hitting the correct card consistantly so fold the hand now.

Overturned: What about when you flop a 2-5-10 to your 9/10 pocket cards? You have top pair and then the turn card comes and it’s a Ace! If this happens you really have to think about the other player and his positions. If your opponent is a solid player and he’s sitting just in front of you at the table, then assume he has the other Ace and fold the hand. If you check and your opponent is behind you but has betted then consider what his strategy is. A loose player may be called at this point but a tight playing opponent may well have the top pair and there really is no point chasing dead money. Play towards folding this hand unless you really feel that your opponent is bluffing and trying to force you off the table with nothing.

Two Overcards: What should you play if you have two decent sizes cards, say, K/Q and the flop is all low under-cards, say 3-5-9?  Paying your $2 on the flop is a fairly easy bet to make if you think your opponents haven’t paired, remember to watch their playing styles.  We’ll assume that the turn card comes and is no help to you, we’ll also assume that you don’t think it’s helped your opponent.  Will you call when playing the turn card and pay $4 with the chances of hitting top pair on the river card? Before making your mind up, are you in a late position?

If nobody else has bet in front of you and therefore your assuming that at best it’s a low pair that you’re up against, you might want to play this one.  At this point, it’s really someone hitting a straight or a flush that should concern you most though, if you think the cards aren’t stacking up for a bigger hand like these, then you might want to play the turn card and bet out. It may force the other hands out of the pot.  However if you’re called, then you really need to hit that top pair to stay in with any chances of winning. Fold if you’re not sure you have the best hand.

Remember – second place gets nothing.

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