The Deciding Phases: The Turn and the River
Monday, 3. May 2010

The turn and the river are the make it or break it phases in a hand of poker. At this point in the game, your bets may have already cost you a lot of your chips so you’d better make it work. Though you can still fold at these stages, you’d have invested quite a bit into the pot so it’s just natural to want to win the pot than give it up.

It is critical at this point in the hand to have a set strategy and play it out to the end without hesitation. The following are things that a player should definitely considering while entering these last two phases in a hand of poker. Playing these phases correctly can make the difference between poker pain and poker

The Turn Phase
Before the turn and after the flop, you need to have a definite game plan. If you’re planning to bluff other players into folding, then you’d better come on strong by continuously betting and raising. This would make your opponents think that the flop has given you a great combination.

Raising the bets also increases the cost of remaining in the hand. This is especially useful strategy against those who have drawing hands and are hoping for an out at the turn. By raising constantly, you will make the pot odds less favorable for your adversaries; this may make them fold and leave you the pot before the showdown.

After the turn, check your cards for the wisdom of staying on in the game. Yes, you would lose your bets so far, but if you continue playing with a marginal hand that the turn did not improve, you would lose even more.

To determine your chances for getting the card you want at the river, calculate your drawing odds.

The River Phase
Normally, reaching this phase takes a lot of guts. People who reach the river usually have very good cards or big drawing cards. People who reach this stage with marginal hands are either very stupid or very good.

If you got your break and you have great cards that you think no other remaining player can beat, milk it for every cent it’s worth. Continue raising until your opponents drop or call your bets. If aggressive play doesn’t scare away your opponents, you should ask yourself whether they have better cards or whether they think you’re bluffing. In that case, let them call so you can have the showdown and prove that you truly have a great hand.

If you have a big drawing hand that fails to materialize by the river, it is generally advisable to fold. However, if you think you can bluff the remaining players into folding, then you should do continue raising madly.

Finally, if you have marginal hands at this point in the hand, it is even more advisable to fold before the showdown so that your opponents wouldn’t see what you were stupid enough to fight for. However, if your object is to let your opponents catch you bluffing so you can string them on later with a monster hand, then you should join the showdown by checking and calling.

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