Betting on the Turn and River

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Betting the Turn and River in MTTs

Betting the turn and river is very important in MTTs because whether you’re checking, betting for thin value or flat out bluffing on these streets, there’s gonna be a hell of a lot of chips at stake.  If we have 10,000 chips in the middle of a tournaments and the blinds are 100/200, then a regular pot on the river could be worth 40% of an average 50BB stack.  Before making any decisions, you should check your tournament HUD to see how strong your opponent is, how many showdowns he normally wins and how many pots he wins after seeing the flop.  To give you some quick stats we can assume that a WSD% > 39% represents overplay i.e. our opponent is flat-calling raises with little equity in the pot.  We can punish these players by betting for value rather than checking the river.  Bear in mind however that if the WSDW% (went to show down and won) is close to 100%, this guy always has the best hand and isn’t worth bluffing.

Bet or Check the Turn/River?

Against weak opponents with a nitty VPIP/PFR of 10/8 we can extract maximum value from our big hands.  If you’re bluffing, you should agressively bet out scare cards on the river such as an overcard or one that makes a pair to the board.  A half-pot to full-pot bet on the turn or river will force a weak opponent’s holding off the hand, however what’s really going to affect your bet-sizing is your opponent’s remaining stack.  If he has a small stack left with less than 10 BBs and is pot committed, a bluff won’t work.   

Secondly when betting on the river you should know by now whether you’re ahead or behind and whether you’re betting for value or for a bluff.  When deciding to check or bet for value you need to have a clear vision of his hand range.  Let me give you an example on when to extract value.  In a tournament, the blinds are 500/1000 and me and the MP both have a stack size of 65BBs.  MP opens the pot to 2250 and I call with KcQc on the button.  The boards brings Qh-4s-8d and the MP cbets 4900.  I call him in position  and the turn brings a 7.  Now my opponent checks, making me fairly certain I’m ahead so I raise to 9200.  He calls this bet and the river brings a 8, making a pair to the board.  MP checks to me, and this is where I have to decide whether to raise or check the river for value.  The only hands that realistically beat me are AA, KK, AK and AQ, however I can discount AQ because he didn’t double barrel the turn, and I doubt he’s playing AA/KK that conservatively.  After being confident I was ahead, I raised the pot to 29500 and put my opponent on JQ.   He called and turned over JQ! 

I was able to pinpoint his exact hand in the above example however things won’t always be that easy.  You migh not always be ahead like this and if your opponent’s WSDW% is anything near 100%, then you definately shouldn’t be bluffing or going to showdown with anything less than top pair.

Why Betting the Turn and River is Different to Betting on the Flop in MTTs

Your aim betting on the flop is to either make your opponent fold or to get information on your opponent’s hand for later streets.  Loose-agressive players fire into most flops with a 1/2 – 3/4- pot continution bet and probably have a cbet% of 50% or higher.

When betting on the turn or river however, you should know by now whether or not you have the strongest hand. As I said, you’re only betting now for value or to bluff.  Against call stations with a WSD% above 39% you shouldn’t be bluffing, but against tight players you should lead out with a half-pot value bet on the river.  This only requires you to win 1/3 of the time to break even.   Against loose opponents you need to assess the situation and decide whether he  is loose enough to call or not.  If you think you’re ahead against a loose opponent, you should either check-raise or float play to extract maximum value in later streets

Betting on the Turn

If your betting for the purpose of bluffing and your opponent is regularly playing marginal hands then raise of 50%-75% the pot should be big enough.  If  you suspect a player’s on a draw, betting half-pot will give him negative pot-odds to call.  If the turn improves your hand or keeps you ahead of your opponent, you should value-check.  Alot of people give up on the turn so easily in MTTs which is why checking  the turn (float play) is your best chance extracting value from him (especially if he’s tight).  At least give him a chance to catch up and hit something on the river.  FYI: if you or you’re opponent is pot-committed here, then checking also increases the likelyhood of your opponent shoving all in.

If you want to min-bet for value, make a bet of 1/4 the pot.  This gives enough value for your opponent to call assuming he beleives he can hit something on the river (a chance of hitting a set or two pair maybe). 

Example of Betting for Value: A player holds top pair on the turn, and can improve the river by hitting either two pair or a set.  The odds of this happening are about 35%, so he’ll mathematically be getting pot odds on a bet of 1/4 pot or less.

If the turn brings a danger card it’s always best to either overbet the pot or shove for value.  The problem with checking in position is that it shows weakness, and you’re opponent may try bluffing you – which incidentally is hard to read. My suggestion would be to min raise – and if your opponent hits back at you then fold.  Others agree checking is the correct play because it discourage your opponent from being clever and sticking back a re-rasie.

Betting on the River

MTT players should definately know whether or not they’re infront or behind by now.   If you’ve missed your draw but feel you’re pot-committed (and have enough fold equity against your opponent) pushing all-in and shoving is the best option. You need to bear in mind your opponent’s WSDW% however, and also remember that your opponent will be able recognize when you’re pot committed and may just call for the hell of it.  A bluff should be pot-sized here and will be enough to force most players off the hand. 

If you think you’re opponent was on a draw and missed the river then he’s not going to re-raise your check.  Conversely, if he did make his draw then there’s he’s going to be ahead of you no matter what.  Thus, a check-raise bluff should only be use when you know you have a stronger hand than you’re opponent – but he’s also going to call your raise for value.  In this situation I recommend value shoving – instead of check-raising a calculated amount.  It makes your hand seem weaker whilst also disguising your play if he folds.

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