1. PokerVIP
  2. Strategy Articles
  3. Texas Hold'em No Limit Beginner
  4. Turn Play: When to Fire the Second Barrel
Texas Hold'em No Limit Beginner

Turn Play: When to Fire the Second Barrel

2,600 Views on 29/9/18

How to play the turn is one of the most misunderstood parts of a hand among improving players.

Article image

How to play the turn is one of the most misunderstood parts of a hand among improving players. This is especially true if the pot was raised pre-flop and the flop saw at least a bet and a call. By this stage, the pot has already grown to a size where mistakes can begin to considerably impact your win rate.

It’s a tricky business though, because as you almost certainly know, you can’t simply bet if you have a strong hand and check all of your air. You must also consider how to bluff at the correct moments, as well as deciding beforehand what your strategy on the river will be. When you’re playing at one of the best online casinos, you must know exactly what your plan will be.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important and frequent considerations we meet in our sessions.

Overcard Turns

These spots are common and can easily be combined with your opponent’s fold to turn c-bet stat to select a perfect decision. For example, take a flop such as 952 when we are holding QJ. If the turn comes the K we pick up additional equity which makes our bluffs not need to succeed as often as otherwise. Also your opponent has to consider that the overcard hits an open raiser’s range better than a cold caller’s.

If they are holding a second pair type hand then they find themselves under a lot of pressure and almost certainly can’t think about calling the river with such a weak hand.

Brick Turns

A turn card that doesn’t change the board texture in any meaningful way is known as a brick. Traditionally these cards were thought to be bad for firing a second barrel because we can only expect our opponent to fold out their worst floats for another bet. Nowadays we know that we can actually bet on these cards some of the time.

One example of this concept in action is on a wet board texture when your opponent’s range is known to contain many combos of draws. Here we can bet a blank turn intending to bet the river when none of the draws hit and expect to get more than enough folds to make this a profitable play. Just like on overcard turns our opponent is also sometimes going to have to deal with having a mediocre pair on a scary board.

Also, if we do fire the river, and they are holding blockers to some of the missed draws we can expect them to fold a reasonable amount of the time.

Turned Draws

When the turn card brings backdoor draws into play we have another opportunity to consider a three barrel bluff - even if we have weak showdown value. Backdoor draws appearing on the turn make it more likely that our opponent will continue if we bet again, but that doesn’t mean that they will always call a third barrel on the river. Obviously when deciding upon this strategy for the hand it is critical that we know who we are playing against. This type of advanced bluff is unlikely to be profitable when up against a calling station. We need our opponent to be aware of ranges for all stages of the hand to make sure we can get enough folds for a third barrel in this situation. This is high risk high reward stuff if you can pull it off. The pot will be a big one. 

It’s also important to make sure you don’t beat yourself up if you get called and lose. This will obviously happen some of the time, just remember to make sure you assess if what hand called you indicates that this play won’t work against this player in the future.

Second Pair In Position

In days gone by, when play was more conservative, many players would be happy to check second pair behind with their medium strength showdown value. The hope would be that their opponent would check to them once again on the river and a cheap showdown would see second pair win. In today’s much tougher games, we are reliant on getting much more value from our hands just to keep our head above water. 

Unless we are expecting to get check raised a lot, we can still extract decent value with a good second pair, particularly if there are many draws still possible. This also has the major advantage where our opponent can be expected to check to us on the river and we don’t risk being bluffed if we check the turn. If we check behind and our opponent bets big on the river we can’t just auto-call a second street everytime, as many players still do.

Lower stakes players don’t value bet thin enough as it is, and we also know they don’t bluff enough to make these calls with impunity.

High Equity Draws

This one is much more obvious, but still, even today, many players prefer to play passively rather than pushing their high equity draws. When you have a combo draw, with perhaps an overcard thrown in there too, it’s generally good advice to fire a brick turn just to see if we can get our opponent off a weak pair. It’s also possible we can still get value from weaker draws.

Another advantage of firing here is that when we do make our draw on the river the pot is now larger and gives us better value.

Image and Opponents

All of the above advice must be considered alongside our table image and who we are playing against. Often, particularly at the lowest stakes, our opponents will not be keen on folding any kind of draw, showdown value, and even any ace high. Trying to pull off bluffs against these players is win rate suicide. Here our game must revert to value orientated play with emphasis on making thinner value bets with a wider range. 

In terms of our image, our previous playing history in the session will heavily affect how profitable our bluffs are.

If you’ve been caught bluffing several times recently then a more conservative approach is needed until your image is rebuilt.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More


ACR Banner
Discord Logo
Join our Discord Server

Freeroll Passwords, VIP Deals and Poker Discussion Channel

Join Server
Join our Telegram Group

The best poker deals and offers directly on Telegram

Join Group
YouTube logo
PokerVIP Chip

21.4K Subscribers