The Turn - Basic Play
We've seen the flop, and now we are still around after the flop's betting round. Now what? Now we are ready to see the turn. The turn card, sometimes referred to as "4th street," is the fourth community card to be played in a hand of Texas Hold 'Em.

It's extremely important to repeatedly stress to new players to No Limit Texas Hold 'Em that with all decisions, the following criteria should always be considered:
• What's the value of my hand?
• What types of opponents am I facing?
• What's my position? (First to act, last to act, etc.)
• Who did what? (Who's raised? Who called? Who had to make a tough decision? Who just wants a good reason to fold?)

Now, since we've made it to the turn card, we should have already considered all of these things and therefore, we can just start making guesses as to what to do next, right? Wrong. Each time new cards come into play the whole dynamics of the hand has changed, and with the dealing of the Turn card, it's no different. It's time to re-examine those questions as well as come up with some new ones.

Here we'll be focusing more on the basic strategy involved with playing the turn. Right now, however, let's stay focused on just the Basic play. You've already been through two betting rounds (Pre-Flop and Flop). By the time the Turn is dealt, you should already have some good information about what your opponents might be holding and what they might be looking for from the deck. With that in mind, more questions arise after the turn is dealt:

• Did the Turn increase or decrease your chances of winning?
• Did the Turn card give your opponent(s) a reason to see the river card?
• Can I use the Turn card to fool my opponent(s)?
• Should I bet, raise, or call when it's my turn to act?

These are not easy questions, so don't get frustrated if there aren't easy answers. Remember, most of the time your opponents are wondering the same things you are. This is a game of patience so don't dwell on one card. If there's one card in the deck that you absolutely do NOT want to see come up on the Turn, and it does, then check. If someone bets, fold. Don't make it so hard on yourself, but don't forget to keep asking yourself questions about your opponent's motives. It's a long game, and if it's not worth putting money into the center, don't. The Turn card can be your best friend, your worst enemy, or just some hitchhiker you pass on the side of the road at 80 miles per hour.

The Turn - Strategy
The Turn Card. The name it self sounds a bit mischievous. Have the tides "turned" against you? Was this an unexpected "turn" of events? Whatever the case, it might be time to "turn" on the heat and win the pot. Then again, it might be time to fold and "turn" your attention to the next hand. Let us take a look at some basic Turn Card Strategy.

First off, we need to take a further look at the value of position. We've already learned that the last person to act in a given hand holds the positional advantage throughout play. But why is this? Lets take a look at a turn card scenario that further demonstrates and proves this idea.

You are head's up (one-on-one) in a hand and you are first to act holding a 10-Ace. The flop Comes, 7x-8x-10x. You decide to bet your pair of 10's with Ace kicker. Your opponent calls for time and thinks about his options. After a moment or two, your opponent starts to make a move to raise but instead stops short and just calls. Scared yet? No? Well, get ready. The Turn card comes out and it's a 9x, making the board: 7x-8x-9x-10x. Since checking the turn card in this situation would typically demonstrate weakness, you decide to lead the betting again. Your opponent practically beats you to the pot and raises, and to make things worse, raises big. By using his/her late position, your opponent is forcing you to make a tuff decision and leaving you with only one real good option, and that is to fold. Unless your opponent is bluffing you'll need to improve your hand to win, and even then you still might lose the hand. Your opponent has used the Turn Card as well as his/her positional advantage against you to win that hand. What did your opponent hold? We don't know. We just know that they made a good strategic move.

There are many strategic approaches to playing the turn card. Let's look at a few.

The Slow Play
Let's say we're in an early position with three other players and the Turn Card makes our hand close to unbeatable. Some players will "slow play" their strong hands for deception. Simply checking a hand and letting another player bet can make your stacks grow to phenomenal levels. By slow playing, or checking the Turn card you may lead your opponents to believe that you hold a weak hand and they will bet into you in hopes of getting you out of the hand. Slow playing your hand is not without risks. If you decide to slow play you risk letting your opponents catch up and possibly improving to the point of making you the loser.

The Check-Raise
Again, we are in an early position with three other players and hold an exceptionally strong hand (let's say 4 of a Kind). The Turn is dealt, and it's our turn to act. Here again we'll check to our opponents in hopes they'll bet. Once your opponents bet and the action comes back around to you, it's now time to raise! You've trapped their money and they will either pay you off, or fold. Some players will use a check-raise to bluff, a very risky move that will work if done correctly. Again, this is why it is extremely important to know your opponents.

The Scare Card
Another good strategic play on the turn is using a "scare card". Simply, if the Turn card falls and it can be used to fill a straight or to complete a flush, it is often referred to as a scare card. Some players will use this opportunity to bluff, or try to represent that the card helped them make their hand. On the other hand if the scare card did indeed help you, it might be a good time to slow play, or Check-raise.

Of course if when the turn falls and you're finding that your opponents are getting more aggressive and your hand is getting weaker rather than stronger, it's probably time to consider folding.

A final thought on the turn
When you have gotten to see the turn and you have what's called the "temporary nuts," meaning for the time being you have the best possible hand, you want to discourage any further play. One of the worst feelings in poker is to get drawn out on the river. If you think your opponent might be able to improve with one last card you'll want to do everything possible to get him/her out of the hand, and that means betting big. If you let a person see the river cheaply in this situation you may find yourself telling your friends about how "lucky" your opponent got. When in actuality, you were the person who put him in a situation to get lucky. Don't be afraid to bet when you think you have the best of it.

May the Felt stay soft, and the Chips Pile High