Turn raises

Friday, February 22, 2008 7:05 | Filled in poker

Terry Borer is the guest expert on ITH today and he has posted in an interesting thread about turn raises and what they represent. His book suggested that turn raises are top pair or better a very high percentage of the time. The book suggests it may be as high as 94% of the time. My instinct was that I saw bluffs far more often than that. A few people posted statistics and it appears that it was top pair or better as low as 64% or the time in the bluffiest sample. My own numbers showed it at about 74% of the time. It presents a dilemma, since when you have a hand like JJ on a KT42 board on the turn, you will have to pay two more bets to get to the river when someone raises the turn so at 74% the pot has to be 9 bets to make it mathematically worthwhile. In the typical heads-up pot where you suspect a bluff, it will rarely be that big. Many of the non-top pair hands were on scary boards like paired or flush possible boards, so I think the lesson is to tend to let it go on dry boards with no semi-bluff possibilities. Despite that fact, I usually want to call. Here is a tragic hand from tonight where I caught the guy bluffing on the turn, yet still ended badly:

PokerStars 15/30 Hold’em (8 handed)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with , .
1 fold, UTG+1 raises, MP1 calls, Hero calls, 4 folds.
UTG+1 is quite loose and something of an action player, so I make a loose call here.

Flop: (7.66 SB) , , (3 players)
UTG+1 bets, MP1 calls, Hero calls.
Bingo. The board is quite drawless and a King high flop is unlikely to have hit UTG+1, so I just play it slow, hoping to trap MP1 for a big bet on the turn.

Turn: (5.33 BB) (3 players)
UTG+1 bets, MP1 folds, Hero raises, UTG+1 3-bets, Hero caps, UTG+1 calls.
Does his turn raise mean top pair or better? Mine does. I think there is a really good chance that he is sitting on AK when he 3 bets, so I’m happy to cap it here.

River: (13.33 BB) (2 players)
UTG+1 bets, Hero calls.
The Jack doesn’t really change anything, since I don’t see it changing our positions, but leading after I capped is a very strong play. I don’t want to get three bet by KK, so I just call after a pretty long pause. It turns out the call was better, but I was shocked by why…

Final Pot: 15.33 BB
Results in white below:
UTG+1 has Qc Td (straight, king high).
Hero has 6s 6d (three of a kind, sixes).
Outcome: UTG+1 wins 15.33 BB.

Of course, this is getting perilously close to a bad beat story, but it is really about what a turn raise really means.  After the discussion and data analysis on ITH, I never figured I would see a turn 3-bet with a gutshot.  What a crazy game!

I only played about an hour last night and won a grand total of $50.  Go me!  Its still a brutal month on total, but I think I’m playing much better now.  I need 750 more VPPs to hit my goal, which should be very easy to do.  Once I hit my monthly goal, I may check out Cake Poker.  A lot of the ITHers are trying to get me to take a shot over there.  I guess they think I’m a big ole fish.

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