Beginner's Course in Texas Hold'em
you continue with a draw? Flopping a four-flush or an
open-end straight draw is a common situation. If it's relatively
inexpensive, you'll invariably stay for the turn card - particularly
when you're certain that yours will be the best hand if you
make it. But most of the time, the turn card will be a stiff.
After all, if you've flopped a four-flush, there are only
nine remaining cards of your suit in the deck.
if you don't complete your straight or flush on the turn,
it usually pays to see the river card in hope that deliverance
is at hand and you can reap the rewards.
you check-raise or come out betting? Suppose that you were
dealt Q-J, flopped an open-end straight draw when 10-9-5 showed
up on board, and made your hand when an 8 appeared on the
turn. If you're really lucky, one of your opponents holds
7-6 or J-7 and has made a smaller straight. You'd love to
see that, since he'd be drawing dead.
you try for a check-raise and your opponents all check behind
you, you've cost yourself some money. Should you bet, hoping
to get some more money into the pot? Or, are you better off
check-raising and trying for a bigger payday, bearing in mind
that you might not get any money into the pot at all if your
opponents also check?
time to put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and do some detective
work by reconstructing the play of the hand. Was there a lot
of action before the flop, suggesting that your opponents
held big hands or big pairs? Did they raise on the flop, suggesting
that they might have been trying to force any straight draws
to fold? Or, did they just check and call, suggesting that
they also were on the come, and now have made their hands
- albeit lesser ones than yours?
An opponent holding a single big pair also might check, since
the turn showed straight possibilities. If you think this
is the case, you're better off leading with a bet, since he
may call, but would throw his hand away if he were the bettor
and you raised.
your opponent also was drawing, you might want to check, hoping
that he will try to steal the pot by bluffing. Another possibility
is that he made a smaller straight than yours and will bet
from late position. If that's the case, you can raise with
the assurance that he will not lay his hand down - even if
he suspects that you have the nut straight.
is a case in which recalling the play of the hand is more
important than knowing the tendencies of your opponents. If
you can deduce what kind of hand - or hands - your opponents
are likely to hold, you can decide whether to come out betting
or try for a check-raise. Remember, unless you think your
opponent will bet and call your raise, betting is the preferred
course of action.
on the turn - Suppose that you raised with A-K before
the flop, then bet into two opponents when the flop was J-7-3.
You don't suspect any strength, and you know that your opponents
are solid enough players to release a hand when they think
your opponents have to consider the possibility that you're
holding an overpair or a jack with a good kicker, it will
be difficult for them to call with anything less than a hand
like J-8. Of course, if your opponents are calling stations,
they'll call with almost anything, and you'll have to become
adept enough at knowing their proclivities so that you don't
try to bluff someone who never releases a hand.
good player also understands that you might be betting a hand
like A-K. But he may not call even if he holds a hand like
8-7, since he can't be certain about what you have, and could
be beaten if his inclination about your bluff is wrong.
bet may cause an opponent to lay down the best hand. Even
if he calls, the river could bring an ace or king and win
the pot for you. But if you bet and are raised, throw your
hand away. Sure, someone might be making a move on you, but
it doesn't happen frequently enough to worry about it, particularly
in low-limit games. Most of the time, you'll be beaten when
you're raised in this situation.
Should You Bluff on the Turn?
whether to attempt a bluff on the turn is a tough call. These
five tips can help you decide.
Don't bluff bad players. To beat a bad player, you're simply
going to have to show down the best hand.
Know your opponent. Will he release a hand, or will he call
"... to keep you honest?"
Do you think your opponent is on the come, and will he release
his hand if he does not improve on the turn?
4 How much money is in the pot? The larger the pot,
the more likely it is that someone will call simply for the
size of the pot. Most players will abandon a small pot more
readily than a big one.
Mentally review the hand's play. Would your betting or raising
pattern cause a good player to assume that you have a big
hand? If he doesn't believe that you hold a much better hand,
Slick Tips to Improve Your Play on the Turn
the turn is not as difficult to play as the flop, here are
some tips for the critical choices you'll face here.
1 Raise when you've got the top two pair on the turn,
unless the board is three-suited or otherwise threatening.
2 If you've got an open-end straight draw or flush
draw with two or more opponents, call any bet on the turn.
However, if the board is paired and there's a bet and a raise
in front of you, be wary. You could be up against a full house.
3 Bet, or check (planning to raise), when you're sure
that you have the best hand. Make it expensive for opponents
who are on the come to draw out.
If you hold a draw, you usually should try to make your hand
as inexpensively as possible.
If you have a hand with which you would call, betting - rather
than calling - is a superior strategy if you think there's
any chance that your bet will cause your opponent to fold.
Be alert to picking up a draw on the turn. It may allow you
to continue playing a hand that you otherwise would throw
"Should I check-raise or should I bet?" This question comes
up frequently. Unless you think your opponent will bet and
call your raise, you should come out betting.
the river - If you're still contesting the pot while awaiting
that river card, you should have a strong hand, or a draw
to what you believe will be the best hand if you make it.
If you're playing with reasonably prudent opponents, what
may have begun as a confrontation between five or six players
probably will be reduced to two - or perhaps three - once
all of the boardcards have been exposed.
vs. potential value - Prior to the last card, many strategic
considerations are predicated on your chances for subsequent
improvement. You could, for example, bet a hand comprised
of a pair and four-flush. Taken together, that pair and its
potential for a flush, as well as the possibilities of improving
to two pair or trips, made it worth playing. And its worth
was made up of both realized and potential value.
Once the river card is exposed, your hand no longer has any
potential value. Its value is fully realized - for better
or for worse. If that flush draw never materialized, you're
left with one pair, and it may not be enough to win the pot.
More importantly, your strategic thinking has to change, too.
You have no remaining potential upon which to base decisions.
to Part 6