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OTB #045: Big Bet or Check? How to Study Blank Turn Cards In MTTs

Updated: May 29

You open off ~37bb from the CO and just the BB calls. You c-bet 25% pot on the AQ3r board and the BB calls again.

The turn is the 7h and the BB checks.

Now what?

Today I want to show you a simple framework for approaching blank turn cards so you can work out whether to bet or check.

Let's dive in...

What's a blank turn card?

Once you reach the turn you should be able to categorise the card as one of these:

- a pair

- an Ace

- a blank

- an overcard

- a flush completer

- a straight completer

A blank is one that doesn't satisfy any of the other criteria, i.e. it doesn't pair the board, it's not an Ace or an overcard and it doesn't complete a draw.

A blank won't always be an offsuit 2 though. It will always depend on the flop.

On an A63 board, a 2 is a straight completer, as are a 4, 5 and 7. So a blank on this board would be a King, Queen, Jack, Ten or 9.

On a T76 board, a 2 would be a blank, but a 3, 4 and 5 (together with 8 and 9) are straight completers.

Polarise your strategy on a blank turn card

A blank turn card often leads to a simplified strategy - you either bet big with a polarised range, or you check back.

No range is truly polarised until the river, but big bets tend to polarise the range to value bets and bluffs.

If your hand isn't good enough to value bet or is too good to bluff, then you check back.

There are some instances where you'll have what looks like a natural bluff like a semi-bluff with a straight draw or a flush draw, but with shallow stacks you'll want to check those back instead of betting them because they don't have quite enough equity to bet and then call if the BB decides to jam.

It would suck to have to fold that much equity.

However, you'll also often find that the very best hand, in this case top set (AA), wants to check back because it blocks so many of the hands you want your opponent to have. It also keeps an incredibly strong hand in your check back range so you don't cap yourself by just checking medium strength hands.

The breakdown

When you land on a blank turn card, you now know that you'll implement a big bet or check strategy.

The next step is to work through each hand category and work out if the hand is good enough to value bet (so you should bet), not good enough to value bet (so you should check) or not good enough to showdown (so you should bluff).

This diagram shows it nicely:

You have the value bets at the top that includes sets, two pair, most top pair and a little bit of 2nd pair and then the bluffs come from King highs and no made hands.

Most of the hands in the middle just check back.

Value bets

Sets: AA wants to check back for the reasons I mentioned above, but QQ, 77 and 33 want to bet because they unblock Ax hands that will call again on this turn card.

Two pair: AQ, A7, A3s and Q7s all want to bet at full frequency.

Top pair: Most Ax wants to bet, but you start to see some checking from A8 and under. A2s is a pure check.

Showdown value

Underpair: KK wants to check back.

2nd pair: Most Qx wants to check back.

3rd pair: JJ, TT, 99, 88 and all 7x want to check back

Low pair: 66, 55, 44 and 22 all check.

Potential bluffs

King high: unnatural bluffs like Ks2s to more obvious bluffs like gutshots (e.g. KTo and KJo, especially with a heart).

No made hand: more betting here from unnatural bluffs that don't mind if the BB raises/jams because they have an easy fold.

Combo draw: JhTh and KhTh bet a lot, but KhJh, 6h5h and 5h4h check back a lot.

Nut flush draw: Ah8h and better (i.e. Ah9h, AhTh etc) all like to bet, but hands like Ah2h and Ah5h check back.

Flush draw: Mix between bet and check. Th8h, Jh6h and Kh6h like to bet, while Jh9h, Qh4h and KhQh like to check.

Open-ended straight draw/8 out straight draw: pure check.

Gutshot straight draw: 4 out straight draws with a heart bet quite often.

Today's action

Filter for double barrel opportunities in position against the big blind on blank turn cards.

If you know the strategy is going to be big bet and check, go through your entire range from your best hands to your worst hands and group them into:

  • Hands good enough to value bet

  • Hands good enough to showdown and/or not good enough to value bet

  • Hands not good enough to showdown and can get some better hands to fold

This is how you study the strategy on blank turn cards and work out what's going on.

That's it for this week.

See you next time.


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