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Post-flop: How to Play on the River
IntroductionIn this article
- When to value bet
- 7 rules for river play
- When to bluff
To make the right decisions on this street, you often have to consider the action on previous streets and decide which hands your opponent can have after the flop and turn.
You have more information than on previous streets, which is very important. Hand reading skills are now required for you to decide whether you should value bet or try to make your opponent bluff. Let's start by asking what the purpose of a bet on the river is.
What is the purpose of a river bet?
Of course, a river bet can have purposes other than getting value. Take a look at the following example.
You are in the small blind, facing one opponent. You are on the river.
The board is A J T 9 4
Suppose you could see your opponent's cards, but your opponent couldn't see yours. Should you bet or check in the following situations?
|Situation||Your cards||Opponent's cards|
|A||K , Q||3 , 2|
|B||3 , 2||5 , 2|
|C||5 , 2||3 , 2|
|D||K , Q||9 , 8|
Situation A: You should check. You may hold the nuts, but you can't expect your opponent to call. Thus, a bet has no value. If, on the other hand, you check, then your opponent may decide to bluff, allowing you to win an extra bet.
Situation B: You should bet. Your opponent may have a very bad hand, but it still beats yours. Your opponent will have to fold if you bet, since he can't see any value in calling with 5 high (which, of course, is true).
Situation C: You should check for the same reasons as in Situation A. You may not be holding the nuts, but you have a better hand than your opponent.
Situation D: You should bet. Your opponent obviously won't fold here. Therefore, you get value by betting. You may even get raised, in which case you can 3-bet. You could also consider slow playing with check/raise, as your opponent is very likely to bet. You will find reasons for not check/raising in such a situation later on in this article.
Looking at the example, we see that there are exactly two reasons for betting on the river:
- You can make a worse hand call (Situation D).
- You can make a better hand fold (Situation B).
You should only bet on the river when one of these possibilities is likely.
Therefore, you have to ask yourself the following question when considering a river bet:
- Which worse hands will call?
- Which better hands will fold?
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