Check or Bet? Whether or Not to Continue Semi-Bluffing on the Turn

Check or Bet Again? Whether to Continue Semi-Bluffing on the Turn

DECISION POINT: In a no-limit hold'em tournament, you call a preflop raise from the cutoff with {A-Hearts}{3-Hearts}, then after the flop comes {5-Hearts}{5-Spades}{J-Hearts} you raise a continuation bet and are called. The turn brings the {9-Clubs} and your opponent checks to you.

In general, we must be willing to exert pressure with our drawing hands in order to play them profitably. Semi-bluffing with our draws allows us to win the hand in two different ways: we can force our opponent to fold or we can hit our draw.

We chose to raise the flop as a semi-bluff, but were called by the preflop raiser. Whether or not we should follow up with a turn bet depends on both our hand range and our opponent's hand range.

On this particular board, a turn bet should get our opponent to fold a decent portion of the time. Since we were the second caller of the preflop raise, hands with a {5-} (which are now trips) are far more likely to be in our hand range than in our opponent's hand range. In other words, we can represent a {5-} very credibly in this spot, while our opponent cannot.

Typically, our opponent will only call and rarely raise if he or she chooses to continue against our bet. For these reasons, we can freely exert additional pressure on the turn by following up with another bet.

We can often get marginal one-pair hands and various {J-}{x-} hands to fold to this bet. If they don't fold, we still usually have a significant number of outs going to the river.

Betting again on this turn is the best play.

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