Limit Hold'em: The Turn

The turn is one of the most difficult streets to play in Limit Hold'em, mainly because any bets you now make must be twice the size they were before and after the flop. This means that mistakes at this point can be costly.

It can often be correct to call a small bet on the flop when you only have a marginal hand, as long as you are willing to fold if faced with a big bet on the turn. It's important therefore to take control by betting or check-raising the turn if you were the aggressor on the flop, especially if you are only playing against a few opponents.

Consider these situations:

You are the aggressor and have a strong hand

In Limit Hold'em, it's common to raise preflop, and bet or raise on the flop if you hit. In situations like this it's very important to stay aggressive on the turn if you think you still have the best hand - sometimes regardless of what the turn card actually is.

If you are out of position in a hand like this, you have two main options:

  • Bet

    This ensures that all the other players in the hand have to call at least one bet in order to see the river card. As a rule, it's often correct to bet if you are unsure whether the other players will bet or not.

  • Check-raise

    This is the more risky play and should only really be attempted when you're sure that one of the players behind you will bet. This works particularly well against aggressive opponents and can lead to big pots. You should however be cautious of check-raising when there are straight or flush draws on the board.

If you are in position and have a strong hand, you should almost always bet if the action is checked round to you. Players who are chasing draws will be forced to put money in the pot again if they want to see the river card. You should not bet however if you suspect that an opponent has hit their draw and is now trying to check-raise.

You are the aggressor and have a weak hand

This is a much more difficult spot to be in. If you have a weak hand, you can attempt a bluff on the turn by doing what's known as 'firing a second barrel'. The idea here is that you are trying to force your opponents to fold by continuing to represent a strong hand. Consider the following before making a move like this however:

  • The TurnThe number of players in the hand 

    In general, you should only fire a second barrel when up against a few opponents only. The more players in the hand, the lower the probability that all of them will fold.

  • The board

    Some boards are more suitable for continuation bets than others. For example, boards with one high and several low cards can often be good for making a continuation bet. But a board with several draws can be more dangerous, especially with several players in the hand.

  • Your opponents' playing styles

    In general you should avoid making this move against weaker opponents who tend to call most hands down to the river.

  • Position

    If you have a fairly weak hand, you should check/fold when out of position. If you have position however, you should consider betting if the action is checked to you.

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