4 Tips for Playing the Turn Profitably in Texas Hold'em
Make no mistake, these are important. But your decisions on the turn are also critical when determining your long-term profitability.
The turn is where you can bloat pots, keep them small, and get away from bad hands.
A player will often call the flop with a poor holding. Sometimes they are floating. If that's the case, they have nothing and are looking to take the hand away.
Other times they have a draw and are trying to catch cards. In either case the turn is going to be a deciding point in the hand.
1. Check-Raising the Turn as Bluff
If you have nothing on the flop, no draw or pair, then you're calling because you plan on taking the pot away on the turn or river.
This is a float. Suppose you are out of position and have nothing, not even Ace high. You might call a continuation bet for a number of reasons, such as you think they have total air.
You might think the player is weak and will fold to pressure on later streets. Both are valid points. You should stay away from check-raising any random turn card. Rather, you want to check-raise in certain spots.
If the flop has two connected cards, either straight cards or flush cards, then you can check-raise when the draw completes on the turn. Some people check-raise low boards to represents sets.
It should be noted that you don't want to check-raise bluff a calling station. You should only check-raise calling stations for value.
2. Check-Raising the Turn for Value
Sometimes you have a monster hand and will simply call the flop. Then, if the turn comes a safe card, you can check-raise.
You want to force the opponent to put in money on the turn when you're likely to have the best hand. If you are in position, then you will want to bet or raise when your opponent checks.
It is not a good idea to keep the pot small on the turn when you have a strong hand. The first problem is that the other player will sometimes fold the river because the pot is not worth calling a bet, also the player might catch a card and improve.
Suppose you have top set but the turn brings a third flush card. If the river brings the fourth flush card, you will have a tough decision because chances are they have a flush.
You want to charge them to chase. Sometimes they will catch, but long-term you will extract max value and profit.
3. Pot Control
If you have a marginal hand that you think is best, you can check the turn. Maybe you have Kc-10s on a 2c-4d-Ks flop and the turn comes 7c.
Chances are you have the best hand but you don't want to overly commit to this pot and put your entire stack at risk. A player that may have called with a hand like K-J or K-Q is going to likely just flat call if you make a bet of about 1/4 to 1/2 the size of the pot.
However, what if you check and they bet pot? Can you call with your 10 kicker? This is really a defensive move disguised as an offensive move. When you lose you will tend to lose less because you're able to control the size of the pot.
4. Bloating The Pot on the Turn
When you bloat the pot on the flop people put you on big hands such as sets, made flushes/straights and big combo draws. This lets them get away from marginal or second best hands.
However, when you apply pressure on the turn, it's harder to get away. People don’t like ditching hands they've invested money into. By the turn they've already put in money pre-flop and on the flop.
If you have a big hand, the turn is the easiest spot to get money in. Lots of pressure on the flop will often scare people off so that’s why you see pots get huge on the turn.
People wait for safe cards to stack off. You can often times get a person with Ac-Kc to call off their whole stack on the turn when you have pocket 2’s on a 2c-9c-Ks-7d board.