Figuring out what to do pre-flop in online poker isn’t too difficult. A basic strategy will help you navigate the flop, too. It’s the turn and river in a poker hand where things get dicey. The more streets you travel down, the more money gets put in the pot, and the trickier the hand becomes. But with a little preparation and practice, you can start playing the turn and river like a boss.

Let’s start at the end. When you’re on the river, all five community cards have been dealt, so there’s no more drawing to do – you’ve either made a hand or you haven’t. This makes the river easier to figure out than the turn, even if the risk is greater and your heart might be pounding a little more quickly. In general, you want to bluff less often on the river than you do on the turn, and less on the turn than the flop. And the stronger your hand is, the bigger you want to bet.

What To Do On The River

That’s if you’re the one acting first on the river. What if you’re in position? If you’ve been the aggressor and your opponent checks, the same general concepts apply, but if you’re the one calling down and your opponent fires again on the river, now you’ve got a choice to make. Pot odds will play a role; if your opponent bets small, you can call the river with a wider range of hands, since the risk is lower. If she bets big, you’ll need one of your stronger bluff-catchers to call with.

You could also raise the river, of course. This play doesn’t get used nearly often enough, because people are risk-averse and don’t bluff-raise as often as the math suggests. But in certain situations, you can get your opponents to bet-fold the river. If you suspect they have a marginal made hand, and that fifth community card is a scare card that might have completed your straight or flush, this might be a good time to bluff-raise – especially if you have cards in your hand that block your opponent from holding the nuts. Just make sure you size your bluff the same as you would if you actually had that monster hand.

One Good Turn

Once you understand the basics of river play, you can reverse engineer the other streets. Your approach on the turn should lead you to make your desired play on the river. If you were the aggressor on the flop and the turn card is a blank, you can usually keep firing away whether you have a made hand or not, but if it’s a scare card, consider making a smaller bet when you double-barrel, or even check back if you’re in position and you’d rather take the free card.

Playing the turn when your opponent is the aggressor is where the pros separate themselves from the Joes. You can fold, call or raise, and once again, people don’t bluff-raise enough in this situation. If a scare card comes on the turn and you’ve got a strong draw, don’t be afraid to play it quickly. Your opponent might fold, but if she calls, you still might end up with the best hand on the river. Then you’ll know exactly what to do.

Play poker online at Ignition Poker and test your new turn and river skills!