How to Play Poker Lesson 6: Don’t Be Afraid

Lesson 6: The Turn


Slowing down on the turn is almost always a huge mistake, especially if nobody has yet shown any signs that the turn card helped them. For example: you have AdAh and there’s 3 other players who see the flop with you. The flop comes Kc Tc 6s. You bet this flop, the first player callers, the next player raises and the third player folds. You reraise, the original caller to your left calls, and the raiser calls. Now the turn brings the 8c.

You need to bet here. Do not check. While the third suited card might scare you, in a low limit game you can’t be at all sure that either of the other two players have now completed a flush. It’s entirely possible that the original caller has a hand like AT, and the flop raiser has something like KJ, in which case you’re still ahead. If you checked at this point instead of betting you run the risk of letting these worse hands improve on the river for free. Instead, what you’d really like is for both of these hands to fold now, and at least one of them—probably the AT—will often do just that if you bet. By this time the pot has gotten fairly large, so you’d be happy to take it now. If, however, neither player has any intention of folding, you at least collect another bet those times that they continue on with the hand. Again, this point can’t be overemphasized; if you can’t make them fold, at least charge them the maximum to continue on.

If you’re raised on the turn, you’ll have been put to a decision. Against some players you’ll have to fold here, and against others you’ll go to the river. But poker, at its core, is a game that requires its participants to make these tough decisions. If you shy away from making them by simply checking and calling here, you can’t beat the game in the long run.

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