How to Play the Turn in Poker [Strategy Used by Pros]

6 Very Simple Ways to Play the Turn More Profitably
Learning how to play the turn in poker more profitably can be one of the best things you can do for your overall results. And the reason why is that so many pots are won or lost on this street.

And if you really want to get ahead in poker, then you are going to have to learn to start taking away more than you fair share of pots on the turn. This is especially the case when nobody really has anything.

As I often point out, the reality of poker is that most of the time nobody really has anything very good at all (a weak draw or bottom pair usually at best).

The person who wants the pot more is therefore usually going to be the one who wins it. In this article I am going to give you 6 simple ways to start winning more pots on the turn.

1. Double Barrel the Turn More Often

The first and probably most obvious way to start winning more pots on the turn in poker is just to start double barreling more often.

What I mean by this is that as the preflop raiser, you bet the flop and then you bet the turn again. This is a very strong line that essentially forces them to have something really good in order to continue.

And going back to what I just said (most of the time nobody has much of anything), you can therefore see why this is such a powerful play.

But you can't just going double barreling any player. That is a recipe for disaster. You need to do it against the player types who often call the flop with a wide range but then give up later on.

The key HUD stats to look out for here are:
  • Low Fold to Flop CBet%
  • Low WTSD%

For more on what these HUD stats mean and how you can get them, see my HUD stats mega article right here.

2. Take a Stab When They Fail to Double Barrel

This brings me to my next point. When you are the preflop caller in position and they bet the flop but fail to follow it up on the turn, you should almost always be taking a stab at the pot.

It literally doesn't even matter what you have.

For instance:

Tight regular raises from EP

You call on the button with 78



Tight regular bets

You call



Tight regular checks

You should BET

It is a serious mistake not to bet here. Your hand literally doesn't even matter.

You can't go around floating the flop loosely like this if you aren't going to take a stab at it when they show the first sign of weakness. That is losing poker.

Always remember that the whole point of a float is to pounce on any weakness they show later on. If you actually make your hand, that is just a bonus.

3. Check-Raise the Hell out of the Double Barrel Monkeys

As you move up the micro stakes you are going to encounter many ultra aggressive regulars. They literally have no concept of when to lay off. All they know is unlimited aggression.

And because most of the other players are so weak at these stakes this strategy ironically ends up working out well for them a lot of the time. Although it should be noted that they will usually pay dearly for it once they get to mid or high stakes.

Anyways, I love check-raising the crap out of these guys as a counter strategy. You should be doing the same with a wide range of nut hands and hands with some equity such as:

  • All sorts of draws (flush, straight, gutshot)
  • Middle pair
  • Bottom pair
  • Two overs

Now you definitely don't want to be doing this every time you have one of these hands. But you want to mix them in from time to time. I like to check/raise the turn against these kind of guys with a semi-bluff around 50% of the time. The other 50% is the nuts.

Once again, I am ONLY talking about the double barrel monkeys here with HUD stats of something like:

  • Flop CBet = 80
  • Turn CBet = 70

They are weak way too often on the turn. They know it. I know it. And I am going to make them pay for it.

4. Know When to Check Behind

Another mistake that people commonly make on the turn is not understanding when they should be checking behind instead of betting.

Poker is a constant balancing act of controlled aggression. You need to know when to lay on the gas pedal and when to slam on the brakes.

When you are the preflop raiser and a Nit calls your CBet and the turn comes with a throughly "unscary" card, you need to give this player some respect and check back.

Otherwise, you are just burning money.


You raise with AQ in MP

A Nit calls you in the big blind



The Nit checks

You CBet

The Nit calls



The Nit checks

You should CHECK

It is a serious mistake to double barrel on this card versus a tight Nit. This player type almost always has something decent when they call you on the flop and that 4 on the turn changes absolutely nothing in his mind.

Save yourself some money and check it back.

For my complete guide on how to deal with ultra-Nitty regs at the micros click here.

5. Pot Control More Effectively

On a slightly related note is understanding when to pot control on the turn.

What I mean by this is learning when you should slow down, not because you think there is a good chance you are beat, but because it is in your best interest to play a smaller pot size.

This happens most frequently with hands like a small overpair, top pair bad kicker or middle pair. These are decent hands which do stand to be the best a lot of the time.

But these are NOT the kind of hands that you are likely to play a big pot with and wind up on the winning end very often.

This is a constant mistake that I see newer poker players making. They get into all sorts of ridiculously bad situations in bloated pots with these marginal hands because they forgot to pot control.

It often makes a lot more sense to slow it down on the turn and create a little of that Deception Value that I so often talk about in The Micro Stakes Playbook.

This will help induce bluffs or allow you to just go ahead and get that value on the river anyways.

6. Have a Plan for the River

The last way to play the turn more profitably in poker is to have a plan for the river. So many times I see people blindly call the turn or bet the turn and you know that they don't have a clue what they are going to do on the river.

This is a huge mistake. You should always have a plan for every hand you play and the real planning should actually take place on the flop.

So what do I actually mean by planning out a hand?

I mean analyzing the player type and their likely range given the board texture and the action thus far in the hand. And then having a plan for what you are going to do on future cards.

Some of those future cards will be safe for you and some will be bad. For instance, you should know exactly what you are going to do on the river when the flush gets there AND when it completely bricks out.

This is largely a skill that I think you learn through experience. However, it is something that I suggest you highly consider starting to learn no matter where you are in your current development as a poker player.

Have a pen and paper on hand if you need to and write it out at first.
  • If the river comes an offsuit A, K, Q, J or T and villain checks, then I will...
  • If the river comes an offsuit A, K, Q, J or T and villain bets, then I will...
  • If the river comes a straight or flush completer card and villain checks, then I will...
  • If the river comes a straight or flush completer card and villain bets, then I will...

You don't have to bother with all the raise scenarios on the river because they are so rare.

But you should definitely have a plan for both safe and unsafe river cards. And if you are in position, then you should also have a plan depending on the action that your opponent takes as well (check or bet).

Final Thoughts

Learning how to play the turn more profitably is a crucial skill in your development as a poker player. If you are currently having trouble winning at the lower stakes, then I would seriously consider leak checking this street in particular.

In my experience playing at the lower stakes many players make the mistake of either being way too aggressive or way too passive on the turn. They also often don't have a coherent pot control strategy or a plan for various river scenarios.

Hopefully some of the tips listed above in this article will help you play 4th street a little bit better!

Make sure you pick up a copy of my free poker guide to learn my complete strategy for the micro stakes from preflop to the river.

Let me know in the comments below how you play the turn in poker. Do you have any tips of your own?

Poker turn strategy


  1. Nathan great work. As always a good reminder how to outplay my opponents. (Y)

    1. Thanks Layya glad this article helped!

  2. Looking at getting back into the game after 4 yrs out of it due to medical reasons. I’ve been receiving your emails for about a yr now and you talk a lot of sense. Although micros aren’t great to play at with all those numpties around, sadly I’ll have to so I can grow my Bankroll. I k ow all about BRM after completing my very own Jesus $10k challenge starting with a zero Bankroll. You raise some important points to and although I think I’m above this level, it’s good to see someone taking the time to connect with the lower levels of the game. I salute you sir!


    1. Hey Plaza,

      Thanks for the kind words, glad I could help!

  3. Anonymous24 June

    I generally try to avoid calling preflop and instead rfi or 3bet. But I noticed that when I do call it is generally rare to see someone that doesn't double barrel the turn at my current stakes (5nl). Tight players who rfi from ep who double barrel low boards ill usually reraise with about any 2 cards. If they dont reraise and call Ill usually overbet the river which seems to win me alot of pots.

    Great advice though Nathan

    1. Love your Articles Bud. I started on June 1st, to get back into Online Poker seriously. 20hrs a week, since I work full time. Trying to apply all that you have taught me so far. For the 1st time, I am starting to understand the "swings" of grinding. Was way up last week, and this weekend, hit a 9BI (2NL) downswing. Starting with this article, i think I need to dive deeper into postflop, and turn play. I have played almost 20k hands this month, and I think I might be a little too aggressive, and also, missing out on some spots on the flop/turn. Making decisions when they cold call my preflop/flop when i show aggression or c-bet, is kinda killing me. lol