Adaptability is an essential skill that you need to master to become a better poker player. You should have the ability to switch from one strategy to another as the game progresses. However, before you can start doing it, you need to know what a street in poker is, and its weight in the game.
A street in poker refers to a card dealt in each round and carries varying importance in games. In community card games like Hold’em and Omaha, the turn and river are the fourth and fifth streets. In Stud, the fourth, fifth, and sixth cards for each player are the fourth, fifth, and sixth streets.
It may sound simple, but understanding streets in poker is more complicated than what you might think. We will discuss everything about poker streets and help you use them to be a more effective player. We’ll even give you tips on how you can properly play each street in poker.
Understanding Street in Poker
A card dealt in a particular betting round, in many poker variants, is called a street.
For example, in community card games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, we usually use preflop, flop, turn, and river, but we can also refer to the turn and river card as the fourth street and fifth street, respectively. In Stud games, the fourth, fifth, and sixth cards dealt for each player are called the fourth street, fifth street, and sixth street.
It’s important to understand that a street refers to the actual dealing of cards and not the betting round. When you’re playing Hold’em or Omaha, the first betting round is preflop, the flop is the second betting round, while the turn is the fourth street, but is only the third betting round of the game.
It’s a confusion that many people make when they first hear the word street. It may not seem as crucial as other poker terms, but knowing what a street is and understanding its importance is one of the first things that a poker player should understand to become more competent.
Different streets in poker have different weights, and you should have the proper knowledge about it to get the most out of your games. It’s also an essential factor that you need to consider whenever you’re devising a plan to extract value from your opponents or minimize your risks.
Why Understanding a Street Is Important in Poker
When you’re playing poker, you need a clear goal in mind as early as preflop. You need to determine the range you want to play, the type of strategies you’re going to use, and if you’re okay with betting more chips at the table. Although all of these are important, the technique you will adapt in every street will depend on what’s on the table and your opponents’ actions.
For example, you have a premium hand preflop that you can bet a lot of chips with, but if you reach the flop and draw air, you need to start adjusting your strategy to represent your hand correctly. Similarly, if you’re playing Stud or Razz, the fourth street is important because it can render the technique you used on the third street useless.
Each street is different in every game format, and players also put different weights on them. So, if you want to be a competitive poker player, you need to understand how each street can change the game, allowing you to have a clear view of how much value you should put on each street.
Weight of Each Street in Community Card Games
When you’re playing community card games, you only have four betting rounds, and you need to use all of these to establish your represented range. That’s why many professionals say that preflop is the most crucial stage in Hold’em or Omaha. It’s where you decide the range you’re going to play, whether you’re going to join the pot, and the number of chips you’re prepared to bet. Playing the correct range preflop also means that you will have less hard decisions postflop.
When you reach the flop, it’s where you’ll get most of the community cards and will, almost always, determine how your hand stacks up against your opponents. Although it’s where you’ll get most of the cards, the decision that you’ll make at the flop isn’t as important as the decisions that you make preflop and at the turn.
The reason why the flop isn’t as crucial as other streets is because it’s only a continuation of the play that you made preflop. If you can establish yourself at preflop, your second betting round will be more comfortable. It holds even if you didn’t flop a made hand (straight, flush, full house, straight flush, quad, or royal flush).
The turn is a crucial stage of the game because it relies heavily on representation. It’s also the street where many players start to have more equity. The fourth street is where calculating your odds of winning the hand becomes more critical. It’s important because this allows you to get out of the game before you start putting more chips on the table.
When you’re playing cash games, it’s easy to be more aggressive when you’re at the turn. However, if you’re participating in a tournament, playing aggressively by the fourth street is something that will require massive consideration, especially if your goal is to protect your chips.
The river or the fifth street is, arguably, the most crucial street in poker because it’s where you can take advantage of everything you did in the previous streets.
If you can represent yourself properly, it’ll be easier for you to win more pots..
Unfortunately, many players fail to realize that the fifth street in community card games is also one of the biggest traps in poker. When you’re playing Hold’em, and you reach the river, you probably have already placed so many chips on the table that it’ll be hard for you to fold. Even if your opponent goes all-in, it’ll still be challenging for anyone to fold, especially when you have a relatively strong hand.
It’s an essential factor that you need to consider, and it means that you don’t have to play the river every time. Many players justify their move of playing the river by saying that they thought their opponent was bluffing. Although there’s some merit to it, one crucial skill that separates professionals from beginners is understanding and identifying the games they should play.
Weight of Each Street in Stud or Razz Games
When you’re playing Stud or Razz, the strategies that you’re going to use will be slightly different because you have to consider the upcards on the table. Each player receives two downcards and one upcard at the start of the game—third street. You will use it to start representing yourself in the game, allowing you to start building the pot.
Your hole cards are only visible to you, and you can’t use it to extract value from your opponents. However, your upcard will be useful for stealing the blinds, even if you have very weak downcards.
The secret in winning Stud and Razz games is to steal the blinds, and the only time you can do it is by the third street.
The fourth street is, perhaps, the most crucial street in Stud and Razz because it has the most significant impact on the strategies you’ve made on the third street. In fact, many professionals warn beginners never to bet too many chips by the third street because the fourth street can change the game’s flow.
The fifth and sixth streets are only the continuation of everything you did, but it’s one of the best ways to extract value from your opponents. Remember, when you’re playing Stud or Razz, your goal when value betting is to keep as many players in the game as possible, and you can only do it by not being too aggressive at these streets.
The seventh street or the river in Stud or Razz is, perhaps, the most misunderstood street in these games. When you reach this stage, there’s really not much that you can do, and the best play you have is to play it to the end and see how your hand stacks up against your opponent.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth streets will get so much action that if you reach the river, you’ll be deep in the game that the strategy in almost any situation is to get to the showdown. These game formats make it harder for a player to fold as the game progresses, so it’s essential to be more considerate with your moves in the early stages.
Tips to Play Each Street Better
Now that you have an idea of each street’s weight, let’s talk about the things you can do to play each street and take advantage of it effectively. Since community card games like Hold’em and Omaha are the most popular game formats today, we’ll go through the things you can do in these games.
Let’s categorize these stages in two: preflop and postflop. The game starts as soon as each player gets two cards. It’s what we call a preflop, which is also the first betting round. It’s when players decide whether they will play the hands they have or fold it. Postflop starts as soon as the dealer draws three community cards, and it ends when the remaining players reach the showdown.
In between these stages of the game, a player should have a clear understanding of what he needs to do to be a competent player. He should also have the skill to adapt to the changes that happen in-game, minimizing his risks, or maximizing each round’s earning potential.
Playing Preflop Effectively
There are many things that you need to remember whenever you’re at preflop, but we’ll share with you some of the most important. Here are five things that you always need to remember to play preflop effectively:
- Play fewer hands and be aggressive when you play them. One important skill that separates professionals from beginners is patience. A professional knows that he can play only so many games before losing all of his chips. Playing all hands forces you to lose more games than you should. So, be careful when deciding whether you should join preflop or not.
- Always fold when you’re in doubt. Whether it’s your odds that tells you to fold or your intuition, it’s almost always better to fold than to take your chances preflop. Remember, as soon as you join the pot, you automatically put yourself in a position that will make it hard for you to fold later in the game. So when you’re not sure with the hands you have, it would be best to fold it and wait for a better draw.
- If you’re confident with your hand, build the pot. One of the best things in poker is that the player with the best hand will, almost always, be aggressive enough to help him build the pot. When you’re at preflop, you should be confident enough with your hand that it won’t be a problem for you to raise or reraise. No one will build the pot for you, so be sure to play hands that are only strong enough to give you confidence in doing it.
- Always defend the big blind, but with restrictions. Many players think that being the big blind is a huge disadvantage, but the truth is that the big blind is a unique position. Whenever another player raises the bet, it’ll be easier for you to call because you already have one big blind on the table. It’s a discounted position for you to play, and it gives you the ability to evaluate the action preflop to make a more educated decision.
- Only play games where you have the best chance to win. Poker is a game of skill more than anything. Although there’s some level of luck involved in poker, winning games will always depend on a player’s skill. If you’re the weakest on the table, you’ll most likely lose the game regardless of how hard you try. So, be sure to only play games where you have the highest chance of winning.
Playing Postflop Effectively
Postflop refers to all the decision-making stages you have to do as soon as the three community cards hit the table. It represents almost every stage of the game, so you need to understand how you can play it effectively. Here are five tips that you can use to be a better postflop player:
- Use your position to control the pot and your risk. Being in the late position is one of the best advantages you can get when playing poker. It gives you the ability to evaluate the table, allowing you to gather enough information before making your move. Using this to your advantage makes it easier for you to control the pot size according to your commitment, while effectively minimizing your risks.
- Use proper bet sizing to extract value from your cards. When playing poker, you have to take advantage of every opportunity to win more chips. However, what most players fail is sizing their bets accordingly. Many players overprice or underprice their chips, making it harder for them to be flexible in later stages.
- Avoid tricky spots when you reach the flop. As you gain more experience, it’ll be easier for you to wade through tricky situations. However, as a beginner, you want to avoid it altogether, especially if you’re unsure how you should handle it. Like preflop, if you doubt your situation, it would be best to fold your hand.
- Always make decisions based on the general population tendency. It’s easy to overcomplicate things when you’re at postflop. However, one of the best things you can do is simplify your strategy and always think about the general population tendency. It will be easier for you to avoid fancy techniques and think about what most people would do in a similar situation.
- Be mindful of the players you’re playing and the stakes of the game. Bluffing and being aggressive when playing is one of the first things that you should learn in poker. However, if you’re playing micro-stakes games against players who will call you down to the river with a top pair, bluffing becomes less of a strategy and more of a way for you to lose chips quickly.
A street in poker refers to a card dealt in a particular round. Each street carries different weights that can affect the decisions you’ll make throughout the game. If you want to be a better poker player, you need to understand these things and be sure to take advantage of these to extract value from your opponents.
Remember, different game formats require different strategies that you can use. So it would be best to familiarize yourself with each street and understand how they can affect the game. It’ll give you the ability to control the game, allowing you to maximize your profits while minimizing the risks involved.