Calling raises too often on the turn is another common mistake made by many players. One problem with calling raises on the turn is that you often end up calling the river. With a goalMatthew Hilger is a professional poker player and respected author. In addition to the many articles on his own website, he writes columns for CardPlayer magazine, PokerPages.com and PokerinEurope.com. Matthew's next book, Texas Hold'em Odds and Probabilities: Limit, No-Limit and Tournament Strategies, will be released in June 2006. Matthew's website is www.internettexasholdem.com
of earning one big bet an hour, you would wipe out two hours of earnings in one hand by making the mistake of calling the turn and river when you shouldn’t. When calling a raise on the turn, think about whether or not you will call the river if you don’t improve. Paying two big bets significantly decreases the pot odds you are receiving to see if you will win the hand.
Many opponents wait until the turn to raise their really strong hands. A lot of players are also reluctant to make semi-bluff raises on the turn, especially at the lower limits. For these reasons, you need to be very careful about when you call raises on the turn. Most opponents who raise the turn almost always have at least top pair with a good kicker, and they often have two pair or better; therefore, you should often fold pairs when raised on the turn. The main exception to this is in tight aggressive games
where some opponents will raise the turn on a semi-bluff, especially in heads-up situations, so you sometimes need to call with a mediocre holding such as a pair depending on the circumstances.
Let’s look first at a couple of situations where folding to a raise with a mediocre holding such as top pair is relatively straightforward:
- Your opponent is the type who never raises the turn on a bluff or semi-bluff.
- An opponent has raised after two players have already called the turn.
In these two situations, I would need at least top pair with top kicker to call, and often an even better hand depending on the type of opponents I am against.
Unfortunately, in tight aggressive games, turn play is not this straightforward most of the time. You will find yourself in a lot of heads-up situations where it is difficult to get a good read on your opponent’s hand. In heads-up situations, some players will raise the turn with many types of hands such as top pair, middle or bottom pair, flush and straight draws, and of course two pair or better. When these types of players raise, sometimes you should fold top pair with top kicker, while other times you might be reraising. You might even need to call with bottom pair and possibly even ace high in some situations. Calling in these types of situations often depends on the type of board and how your particular opponent might play that board.
Realize however that tight aggressive games on the Internet are a rarity nowadays. In the typical loose games that you find your opponent will generally have a strong hand unless he is one of those maniacs trying to bluff at every pot.
Let’s look at a common example. You raise in early position with AK and a middle position player calls. The flop is all rags such as 642. You bet and are called. The turn is another rag such as an 8. You bet and your opponent raises. What do you do? Against most opponents you should almost always fold; however, you sometimes need to call in some of the tight aggressive high-limit games where some opponents will raise with Ax.
Always evaluate the type of board to guide your decision. If the board is three-suited such as A
, consider what types of hands your opponent could be holding. For example, a raise on the turn with this board could mean your opponent hit a flush, or it could mean he holds the K
and is raising on a semi-bluff, or maybe he has Ax and is protecting his hand against an opponent with a draw. Note how the number of players in the hand makes a difference on the possible holdings. If two players have called a turn bet and an opponent raises, you can generally assume that he is not raising on a flush draw. However, in a heads-up situation some aggressive players might raise with K
hoping that you might fold a hand such as KK, QQ, or JJ.
Also note how high the board cards are. It is less likely for opponents to make draws on a flop like A
than they are with a flop of T
. If your opponent waits to raise the turn with an A
board, you should ask yourself, “What kind of hand would my opponent call the flop with and then raise the turn?” You should be concerned about a set, two pair, or a pair of aces with a good kicker. Against most opponents in this heads-up situation, you could safely throw away KK, AJ, and maybe even AQ. Against tight rocks who wouldn’t raise with two pair or less, you could even throw away AK, as it is likely that your opponent has a set.
On the other hand, what if your opponent raises the turn with a T
board? Since the cards are relatively low, it is more difficult to determine your opponent’s strength. He could be raising with a set, a pair of tens, or maybe even a hand such as 77 hoping that you are holding a hand like AK. A tricky opponent might even raise with a hand like QJ or a diamond draw. With this type of board against certain opponents, you should be more likely to call with an overpair or top pair.
One final situation to discuss is when you need to call a raise cold, forcing you to pay two big bets to see the river. In almost all cases, one of your opponents has a very strong hand, unless he is trying to protect a vulnerable medium holding. The other problem with calling in this situation is that the original bettor could reraise. To call a raise cold, you almost always need a very strong hand or draw. For draws, the pot will need to be quite large to justify calling a raise cold.
The next article will look at Mistake #5: Always Betting the River