Declaring Priorities and Committing to the Turn
You have profiled the situation, analyzed the moves of the players, and considered both the statistics of your hand and the pot. Not only do you have at least a drawing hand and a reason to believe your hand has a high probability of success, but the money in the pot is worth the risk. This hand looks good, and it is only in these hands you should play. If the situation is not just right, you fold. This is what it means to be a ‘tight’ player. A tight player advances with caution, ideally, because they understand how to measure their situation and are patient enough to wait until the situation measures up.
While tight players fare better in the long run, super-tights seldom win big and in tournaments are susceptible to tight-aggressive tactics. In other words, if the flop was worth it and you plan on paying for the turn it is best to commit yourself now to the hand or fold. Going into the turn checking or calling will less often be the better tactic, unless perhaps you are trying to look weak to inflate the pot. This, however, will not be often.
Raise into the turn or do not play it at all. This is sound advice for most situations for a number of reasons. First of all, simply by betting into the turn you are announcing that you think you’ve got at least a drawing hand. Now, if there are eight other players at the table, and six of them paid for the flop, what is the best way to improve the chances of your hand? Simple –reduce the competition. A raise now will shake some confidence, and even convince some other players their hand is weaker than yours. A raise could well turn half of those six hands still playing into folds and out of the scope of concern.
In other words, the turn is where you want to weed the weak and reveal your true competition. Moreover, these competitors, who may well have the second and third best hands, will probably call the raise or even re-raise, thus pumping up the money in the pot. Since the weak hands bowed out, the best thing to do is fleece those still standing for as much as possible –assuming you really believe your hand is strong enough.
As the post-flop betting cycle makes its circuit, see how players react to your raise. Do they simply see the raise or do they turn around and re-raise you? A re-raise means that they either truly believe in their hand or that they are trying to scare you away with a bluff. Hopefully you have had time to observe this player. Are they loose? Do they bluff and call all the time? If so they probably are just bluffing or calling for the sake of it now. Is this a tight player? Better be careful.
Likewise, if you have been playing only when the signs are good, your table image should be pretty tight by now. In the same way you consider the tight player’s raise with gravity, if you are perceived as a tight player people will be more likely to tread lightly around your raise.
Poker strategy is a big topic. People literally write entire books about it. The information here and in the related discussion of how to play the flop is intended as introductory –enough to get started on low level amateur play. Poker skills are developed over time, and online is probably the easiest and cheapest way to play. The best thing to do to improve your game is practice as often and as much as you can. Best of luck!!
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