Long term online poker success with winning strategies – register for free!

The best strategies With the correct strategy, poker becomes an easy game. Our authors show you how to succeed, one step at a time.

The smartest thinkers Learn from and with internationally successful poker pros, in our live coaching sessions and in the forum.

Free poker money PokerStrategy.com is free of charge. Additionally there is free poker money waiting for you.

You are already a PokerStrategy.com member? Log in here!

StrategyFixed Limit

Post-flop: How to Play on the River

Video: Click here


In this article
  • When to value bet
  • 7 rules for river play
  • When to bluff
The river is the final street in Hold'em. There are no further cards. This is where the last value raises are made and busted draws get their last chance 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?

That's not the entire article...

With a free membership at PokerStrategy.com, you'll get free poker money to play poker with and therefore the chance to gain access to hundreds of strategy articles such as these - and of course poker videos, live coaching sessions and strategy forums. Register now for free and start playing to enable all our offers.

Register now

Comments (1)

#1 kevvu, 20 Jun 09 09:19

Its pretty nice article, put quite hard. I need to read it through at least one time to get the all ideas. :)