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Don't fold, just ask - FL: Riverplay with a made hand OOP on scary board

» Don't fold, just ask


There are moments in the life of every Pokerplayer in which the substantiated advice of a professional is extremely valuable. Going by the motto "together instead of alone" you can now get this well-grounded advice from our professional content team. This includes our content-chef, Onkel Hotte (Fixed Limit), Sammy (No limit, SNG), Wishmaster (Fixed Limit, Real-Life-Poker).


Question from laugenstangerl

Fixed Limit

River decision with strong and medium made hands OOP on 4-Flush- or 4-connected - Boards. In smal and large pots, against aggressive/passive opponents. How do I play: Check/Call, Bet/Fold, Bet/Call?


Answer by Wishmaster

In the first part of my answer I will talk in general about the decision using the basics of fixed limit, while in the second part I shall use a concrete example with a tough river decision to simulate the situation described in the question.

Maik Girke takes care of the Fixed Limit section of Pokerstratey. He says strategy games such as poker and Starcraft have become second nature to him. He is now one of Pokerstrategies Black Members.
The first part of my answer will be of interest to the bronze members, while the second part will be more directed at advanced players.
To start with I would like to introduce a new simple game to aid with our decisions on the river.

The game is called „River only Hold’em“ and rules are as follows:

a) River only Hold'em begins on the River
b) You see your opponents cards
c) You are always first to act
d) Raising is forbidden. You can only check, bet and call
e) The pot is always 10BB. We always bet 1BB on the River.
f) Alles Weitere ist wie bei Texas Hold’em

Understood the rules? Note your answers and then go onto the solutions.

Game 1
Hero: A K
Villain: A J
Board: A 4 8 2 2

Game 2
Hero: K J
Villain: A 4

Board: Q T 9 2 8

Game 3
Hero: J T
Villain: J 2

Board: 9 8 2 K A

Game 4
Hero: K 2
Villain: A 3

Board: 5 9 T 4 7


1) Bet! Your opponent will call, since he cannot raise under the rules, hence you gain the most value from the hand.

2) Check! We have a straightflush but checck nonetheless, since our opponent will not call. By checking, however, we may induce a bluff.

3) Bet! Here we cannot win the hand by checking, but the opponent may fold to a bet. He may believe his low pair is no good because the ace and king are present.

4) Check! Against a bet we naturally fold. The opponent is not going to fold to a bet since he has the nuts.

Unfortunately we do not see our opponents cards at the table and cannot make such perfet decisions. The situation is furthur complicated by the possibility of raises by either party.

Yet what changes? Instead of a concrete hand we set the opponent on a range of hands. We group these hands and then look at those which would be played in the same manner up to the river. Now we decide which hand groups require which betting sequence to extract the most profit. At the end we summarize and select a sequence appropriate.

Part 2: EV-Analysis on the River, 4-suited Board

$10/$20 Fixed Limit

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with J, T
Hero raises. CO calls, BU calls, SB folds, BB calls

Flop: ($85) T, 9, 5 (1 players)
BB checks, Hero bets. CO folds, BU calls, BB folds

Turn: ($105) 3 (1 players)
Hero bets. BU calls

River: ($145) 2 (1 players)
Hero ???

Naturally it is our goal on the river to make the most profitable decision. First I must determine with what range of hands my opponent will play like this up to the river. We try to narrow this down as much as possible.

In my example I characterised my opponent as loose both preflop and postflop, so that may may play like this on the Turn with such hands as KQs, KJs or AJ without a Flushdraw. Therefore, after the preflop coldcall, the flop call and turn call I set him on the following range:

88-66, 44, 22
AJo, AcTc, AdTd, AsTs, Ac9c, Ad9d, As9s, Ac5c, Ad5d, As5s, Ac3c, Ad3d, As3s
KQo, KcQc, KdQd, KsQs, KcJc, KdJd, KsJs, KcTc, KdTd, KsTs
QcJc, QdJd, QsJs, QcTc, QdTd, QsTs
JcTc, JdTd, JsTs, Jc9c, Jd9d, Js9s, Tc8c, Td8d, Ts8s
9c8c, 9d8d, 9s8s, 9c7c, 9d7d, 9s7s, 8c7c, 8d7d, 8s7s
6c5c, 6d5d, 6s5s, 5c4c, 5d4d, 5s4s

I exxclude hands whch formed two-pair or better, since I assume that he would raise with such hands befor now.

I estimate his behaviour on the river as follows:

1) Against a check on my part he is unlikely to bet with made hands better than top pair and just take a free showdown.

2) Against a bet he will raise A-High through Q-High Flushes. Low Pairs up to a J High Flush he will just call.

3) Hands worse than a low pair will fold to a bet.

4) He never bluffbets me on the river, yet I have bluffbet him.

The pot is $145
My Equity is 63,3%

His hand range contains the followings hands with the following probability:

The options for our river play are thus:

a) Check/Call
b) Check/Fold
c) Bet/Fold
d) Bet/Call


Under the given betting conditions 1) – 3), that we have determined for our opponent and the givn hand range, each of the options a) to d) has a concrete EV. One can determine exactly, therefore, which option is best. Arrange the options from best to worst.


With the program Pokerazor (www.pokerazor.com) we calculate (We are Player1):

You can download the configuration here to understand this yourself.

Bet/Fold is the best option on the River. Above all because we assumed in the opponent behaviour rules that he will never bluff here.
If we now assume that the opponent will bet or raise in the face of a bet with king high or worse, the options then have the following values:

As soon as the opponent decides to bet or bluffraise with 5.6% of his hands, bet/call becomes the more attracive option.


The example illustrates that dangerous boards whould frequently be bet into on the river. It is often the case on a dangerous board that the opponent may call a bet with a weaker hand, but will no longer bet/raise due to the nature of the board. Scary board are therefore not good for trying to get the opponent to bet with a weaker hand.
In large pots such as this, we should not use the alternative play of Bet/Fold. The opponent need only be bluffing 5.6% of the timein order to make the play Bet/Call optimal.