Raising on the Turn for a free showdown

Another way to semi-bluff is when you have a decent hand on the Turn and raise for a "free" showdown. Actually, the showdown is not free at all since you are committing the two bets on the Turn, but in the spirit of the free card raise on the Flop that really saves a half a bet, lets call this a free showdown raise.

Here are the issues to consider regarding a free showdown raise.

  1. Your hand has a chance to win a showdown on the River
  2. If you are behind, you have some possible outs
  3. There is a chance that your opponent will fold
  4. The chance that your opponent will re-raise you on the Turn is low

Lets take a look at each issue closely

1. Your hand has a chance to win a showdown on the River

The reason this factor is important is because you do not want to be putting in any extra bets if you are an underdog and your opponent is likely to call. If you had called the Turn and would not have called the River if your opponent had bet on the River, then you should not consider raising here unless the other factors are very extreme towards raising. You want to have a hand that you would have been willing to call a Turn bet and a River bet anyway. Thus if you do lose this hand, you do not lose any more. In the previous section, I described a semi-bluff raise on the Turn, but that example is a bit different in that your hand has almost no chance of winning a showdown if it is unimproved on the River.

2. If you are behind, you have some possible outs

Having a chance that you are ahead is important, but sometimes you are wrong and you are actually behind. In those cases, you want to have as many outs as possible so that if you are behind you still have a chance of catching up and giving your opponent a bad beat. For example, if you have KQ and the board on the Turn is K983, you may have the best hand, but you are not so sure. Your opponent could have KJ or KT and you are raising for value, or your opponent could have AA, AK or K9 and be ahead, in which case you have 3 outs to catch up. With KQ you would have been willing to call the Turn and River anyway, so you do not mind committing those bets on the Turn. If your opponent calls, you may decide to exercise the option of betting the River only if a Q or K comes.

3. There is a chance that your opponent will fold

Whether or not your opponent has a better hand, if he folds to your raise on the Turn, it is normally a good thing. If he is ahead, you win a hand that you were an underdog to win. If he is behind, you win a hand right there on the Turn and do not give him a chance to give you a bad beat on the River. The only time when it would be bad for your opponent to fold if you raised is if he was drawing dead or drawing relatively thin. For example, maybe he only has two outs, in which case you are hoping he calls. But notice that even in a case like that you would prefer to raise because you would not want to give him a free look at the River if you did not think he was planning on betting or calling the River unless he caught. Typically, the higher the chances of your opponent folding when he has outs, the better a Turn raise will be.

4. The chance that your opponent will re-raise you on the Turn is low

If your opponent re-raises you, then he has completely foiled your strategy if he is ahead. If you still plan to call the River, now you have cost yourself two full bets with the free showdown raise strategy. It would be best to put yourself in the position where you know a re-raise on the Turn is a sign that he has a great hand and is very unlikely to be a bluff. This way you could safely fold a marginal hand. For example, you have AT and on the Turn, the board is AKJT of four different suits, any Q would make a straight. You decide to raise for a free showdown, but your opponent, normally a passive player re-raises. If the pot odds warrant it, you may still want to call this raise and see if the River brings you a full house. If the pot odds are not there, then you can safely fold without fearing you folded to a bluff.

An Expected Value analysis on whether or not to raise on the Turn for a free showdown could be used, but the problem is that there are too many variables to show with one example and often when this play is made, the raiser does not even know if he is ahead or behind.

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