Turn Up


I’m on the Button holding 9s-9d with blinds at $250/$500. I have $29,900 in my stack, or about 60 big blinds. This is a large stack according to The Poker Model (over 50 big blinds) and I’m sitting comfortably in the tournament.

Under the Gun folds followed by a minimum raise to $1,000 from Under the Gun+1. The four players to his left fold and the action is to me on the Button. According to The Poker Model, 9-9 is a call behind hand with a medium or large stack. This means that if I have over 20 big blinds, then I will call a minimum raise from a previous player with 9-9. With a small stack I would be all-in or folding here, depending on the aggressiveness of my opponent. I’d fold to a tight player and move all-in against a loose player. Call behind hands are listed below:

  • 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6. 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q
  • K-J, K-Q
  • A-10, A-J, A-Q


I call the raise of $1,000 with my call behind hand, 9-9, and the small and big blinds fold on my left. The hand will now move to the Flop where I will qualify my hand as good, mediocre, or bad. No matter what Flop, my hand will fall into one of these three categories and I will play the hand out accordingly. Here are the segments using both of the cards in my hand when stacks are over 20 big blinds:

  • Good: Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush, Royal Flush.
  • Mediocre: Overpairs, Top Pair, Second Pair, Flush Draw, Open-Ended Straight Draw, Double Belly Buster Straight Draw
  • Bad: All other hands

The above categories are the most standard, but there will be exceptions. For example, a Ac-9h-4d Flop when holding 9-9 is good, Three of a Kind. Notice that there are no mediocre draws on the board. On a 9h-10h-Jh my 9-9 is still Three of a Kind, but there are multiple mediocre draws that can improve on the Turn. I must understand that both hands are good, but one still has an edge over the other due to the texture of the board. Generally, the Ac-9h-4d Flop will be played to get all-in (like other good hands), while the 9h-10-h-Jh will be played more like a mediocre hand, looking to improve on the Turn or River.  


The Flop comes Kc-8d-3s and the action is on Under the Gun+1, who bets $1,350. I have flopped second pair which means my hand is mediocre. With mediocre hands I’ll generally want to keep the pot small and get to the showdown where I can flip my hand over and see if it’s a winner. I’ll want to keep the pot small because I’m unsure of where I stand. I don’t want to risk large amounts of chips in this uncertain situation and would like to gather more information for as cheaply as possible. Because my opponent raised pre-flop and made an average-sized bet post-flop, it’s very likely that this is a standard continuation bet, one in which he bets in an attempt to make me fold right now. Although I can never be sure, it’s likely that I have the best hand right now. If he is making a continuation bet with a weak hand, my second pair should be ahead. With my mediocre hand, I call this bet and move to the Turn.


The Turn is the 9c. My hand has improved from mediocre to good. With good hands I’m looking to get all of my chips in because I’ll be in a strong position to win a large pot.

Under the Gun +1 checks, slowing down after his continuation bet and the action is on me with a good hand. I make an average size bet of $3,000 in an effort to induce either a call or a raise from Under the Gun+1. After my bet, my opponent moves all in. I call immediately and we flip our cards over.


My opponent flips over 7d-6c and the River is the 2h. Under the Gun+1 raised pre-flop with an unsuited connector. On the Flop, he made a continuation bet in an effort to get me to fold. On the Turn, he picked up an Open-Ended Straight draw and checked, hoping to see a free River card. After my bet, he moved all-in.

I think his play is average. First, he opens with an unsuited connector from early table position, which is fine. His continuation bet on the Flop is good and correctly sized. This bet would have worked if I flopped a bad hand (if I had something like A-J). On the Turn is where his play goes south in my opinion. The check is fine but he should just call my Turn bet with his Open-Ended Straight Draw and see the River card, leaving himself above the 20 big blind mark. Then he would have been able to fold on the River when he missed and keep his tournament life. Instead he put his whole tournament on the line, hoping that I would fold and if called leaving himself with few outs.   

Looking at my play, I called a pre-flop raise with a call behind hand. I then flopped a mediocre hand, which according to The Poker Model I should call one bet with. I called the Flop bet and my hand went from mediocre to good on the Turn. When the action checked to me I bet with my good hand. The bet induced an all-in from my opponent with an Open-Ended Straight draw. When the money went in I was an 81% favorite to win the hand. The River did not fill his straight and I won a large pot. This is a classic case of improving on the Turn, or as the kids would call it, Turning up.      


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