playing poker

Tip 29 Usually raise

Don’t allow a player to catch a river card to beat you when he would’t have called had you bet Poker Turn.  If you are unsure whether you are holding the best hand, err on the side of aggression.  It is much worse when a check turns a hand that would have been folded into a winner than it is to bet less than the best hand on Poker Turn.  The former costs you a pot; the latter costs you only a bet.

  Your opponents commonly call the small flop bet with a wide assortment of hands, hoping for improvement on Poker Turn.   Then, they fold when confronted with the double-sized turn bet.  You must follow through on your flop bet by firing again, as Poker Turn bet packs considerably more punch.  It is a cardinal sin of hold’em to lose pots by granting free cards to undeserving opponents.  In fact, this may be the single biggest reason why some players who have good hand selection fail to win at the game. 

  Sometimes on Poker Turn the best play is to try for a check-raise, rather than simply betting our.  Ideally, the check-raise enables you to win additional bets when you hold the best hand.  Make sure, however, that the following two conditions pertain when considering this option:

  • You should be fairly certain your one or more opponents will bet when checked to.  It is far better to bet and be called for one bet than to go for a check-raise, only to have the other players check behind you.
  • If you check in a situation in which it might be checked around, your hand should be strong enough to withstand a free card.  For example, checking the nut flush or a full house will generally not cost you the pot if everyone sees a free river card.  However, if you hold 9-8 suited and the board is 2-2-4-8, anyone with overcards* is a major threat to draw out on you.  So, it is best to bet this hand, because you cannot risk giving a free cared to a hand like K-J or Q-T.  These hands probably won’t call a bet, but they are drawing very live – so don’t give them a free chance to draw out on your vulnerable hand.

In addition to protecting your hand, it is important to gain value by betting Poker Turn when you have the probable best hand.  It should be your goal when playing hold’em to win every dollar possible.  You won’t do this by playing overly cautiously on Poker Turn.  Many of your weak-playing opponents will call you down with any pair or even ace high, so you will have a lot of opportunity to extract extra chips from them by betting when you feel you have the winner.