No Limit Hold’em: Slow-playing the Turn
While betting strong hands tends to be a worthy strategy we must, of course, take a different approach occasionally in order to avoid being too transparent and, in doing so, extract the most from a very strong holding.
One such tactic is slow-playing the turn to induce a bet or commitment from an opponent on the river. A typical example is when we are sitting on a powerful hand come the turn, in position, against a lone opponent. This is particularly effective when we have been the aggressor since the beginning of the hand.
Here’s a common scenario:
We are dealt Kh Kc in late position and put in a pre-flop raise of four times the big blind (there’s nothing wrong with this kind of raise in today’s online environment, and it has the advantage of being more likely to whittle down the opposition). Only the Big Blind calls, and we see a flop of 7s Ts 7h which our lone opponent, as is usual when out of position against a pre-flop raise, checks. Note that it’s preferable here to be conscious – rather than afraid – of the two sevens. With a possible flush it’s prudent to bet quite big, which also denies an ace a cheap ride to the turn, so we bet a little more than the pot.
We are called and, whoopee – the Turn comes bearing gifts in the shape of the Kd. Again, the prospect of our opponent sitting there with the other two sevens is essentially irrelevant, so the question is how to proceed from this point should the cadence of the hand continue with another check from the Big Blind, which duly comes.
First, if our opponent had a king, a bet would have been more feasible than a check, while other holdings would probably be given up were we now to bet. With this in mind we can more than justify checking the Turn here in order to afford our victim the opportunity to fill a hand that might seem worth further investment or – also quite possible – for them to take confidence in our taking our foot off the accelerator (we could be on QQ and afraid of the king, for instance) and be inspired to bluff.
The River brings the 5h, which changes nothing, and it’s decision time for our opponent, who is looking at a juicy pot… Out comes a bet for around a third of the pot. We don’t want to raise by too much because we would like to be called, so doubling the bet is reasonable (by this point even an Ace-high bluffer might make the final call).
Note that this should be a part of our armoury that isn’t over-used, as is the case with most such tactics.
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32Red Poker Ambassador