The turn is where your decisions at the poker table become more difficult. Pre-flop betting is actually pretty easy for most players; they follow a fairly regimented pattern depending their style. In fact, most good players have no hesitation when it comes to seeing more cards if they think they have something playable. That same sort of thinking continues to the flop, where most players know whether they’ll make a bet and continue playing.
However, the turn is harder because the pot gets much bigger and betting into it takes a larger relative amount of your stack. Plus, it becomes more complex to analyze the possible hands of other players. For instance, if the flop makes three of a kind on the board, is there someone holding the missing card?
Let’s look at an example; you’re in middle position and the big blind has raised. You’ve got 76c, a nice midrange pair of connectors. The flop drops with Qc75d. Your opponent opts to make a big bet, but you’re not sure if you’re actually beaten by them. The 7 giving you a pair, the fact you’re now three cards into a straight and that Queen of Clubs offering you a long-shot flush draw has outs that give you a reason to call and see the turn. 7s comes down at the turn and you’ve now got a set.
Lots of players make errors at this point because they’ll go and bet enough to telegraph their hand and lessen the amount they can make. The correct play in a case like this really depends on the other player and how you’ve seen them act in the past. If you think can maximize your winnings because they’re normally very aggressive, do so. Otherwise, a call or half-pot raise is probably the best idea.
In fact, betting on the turn in general depends on your opponent and their action. If they’re the sort of aggressive opponent that’s loose enough to overestimate the value of their hand at any given time, it’s a good idea to check to give them a chance to overstate a hand that probably isn’t as playable as they’d like, such as KQ or JJ.
A big bet on a board like this can kick down more tight-aggressive players holding JJ, TT or 99. If they’ve got an AA, KK, AQ or KQ, on the other hand, they might think that you’re using that second 7 as a “scare card” to and you’re bluffing.
The cards your opponents have will frequently color the way they view your card and you have to try to trace the possible hands they might be holding. You’ll also want to consider how much in the way of thinking they’re doing. It’s a fool’s errand to out-think someone who’s not even trying.