One player who responded to our survey expressed an interest in learning to bet the Turn and the River more effectively. To that player, whoever he is, I say this: Kudos to you for recognizing the need to learn this skill!
Betting in general, and most especially the, is a skill that most online players are sorely lacking in. This is a complex subject and one that requires much more discussion than we have room for here. There are SO many variables involved here that it can be very confusing and truly something that most players have trouble with. There are a couple of hints that we can touch on here that will help you in certain situations. If you want a more in depth analysis of this complex subject, you are better off referring to my , or better yet my online .
First off, what you need to remember when you play poker, either online or live, is that each bet needs to have a purpose. It needs to accomplish something, most of the time that accomplishment should be that you gain information. Too many online players just bet for the sake of betting and they have no idea why they bet the amount they did or how to analyze how other players reacted to it. A bet has to have a purpose or it shouldn’t be made. Keeping this in mind will help you in betting on the Turn or River.
For example, lets say you have A-Q as I did in a hand onthe other night. We are going to fast forward this hand to post flop. I have made a pre-flop raise from middle position, which resulted in calls by the button, Small blind and Big blind.
The Flop is A-T-3 rainbow. I make a 1/2 pot sized bet and am called by the Button and Big Blind, Small blind folded.
The Turn is another 3. The key here is to analyze your information to see what the PREVIOUS round of betting told you, before you bet on the Turn.
First, I got 2 calls, which tells me my opponents have something. Since there are no flush draws on the board, I have to look at possibly an inside straight draw, another Ace, or a T or 3. I don’t like the 3 on the Turn much. That 3 could be a scary card. The main reason being is that either player could have paired up a 3 on the Flop and simply been dumb enough to call me with low pair. If that is the case, then I am in trouble here, losing to a set of 3’s. While this may not be likely, it is MORE likely when you are playing against the Small or Big Blind in a hand. They may have stayed in with a variety of hands simply because they had already posted the blinds and were getting good odds on there money.
If either player has an Ace, then I likely have them out-kickered, but I have to worry about whether they paired up a T or again the 3. After careful analysis here, I would say the odds are better that I am looking at someone with a bad Ace or a pair of T’s. I will bet accordingly again with a 1/2 size pot bet. The reaction I get will again tell me how to bet the River.
The button calls again and the Big Blind folds. I like this reaction. If the Button had trips, he likely would have raised. The fact that he calls tells me he probably is playing an Ace, with chances are, a lower kicker than mine. I have to hope it is not a T, but there again, he probably would have raised if he would have hit 2 pair on the Flop.
The River is a 9. That takes care of any possible inside straight draws and there are no possible flushes on the board. I could be being slow played by a set or 2 pair (higher than mine if he has a T) but I cannot worry about that at this point. There is, however, a reason he is staying in this hand, so I need to be cautious about doing something like pushing all-in in this situation. Again, 1/2 the pot is a good strong bet at this point.
The Button calls me and flips over A-J. He was indeed playing an Ace, but his 2 pair is beaten by mine with a higher kicker, tough hand for him, but the signs were there for him to analyze as well. I win the hand thanks to a good analysis after the Flop and Turn.
Notice, there are several ways this hand could have turned out. Careful analysis does not mean that you will always be correct. Remember, poker is a game of incomplete information. All we can do is look at what info we have and make the best possible decision from there. The key, however, to Turn and River betting is not just to bet for the sake of betting. It is thinking about the reaction of the other players in the hand AT EACH PREVIOUS STREET. Usually, that will tell you how you need to bet the next street. If I had been raised at any point in this hand, I may have checked on the Turn or the River, fearing a set or a higher two-pair. An all-in certainly would have resulted in a fold from me.
So, if you want an easy rule of thumb for betting the Turn or the River, it is simply this: think about the hands your opponent COULD have had to make him react the way he did on the previous round of betting. 9 times out of 10, that will give you a pretty strong clue as to what your next step should be. In online poker especially, betting patterns are pretty much all the information you have available. Learning to analyze them is a skill that you need to develop if you want to.
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