Conquering the River
Conquering the River
The last street in Texas Hold’em is the river. At this point there are not only the two face down hole cards that each player holds, but there are five community cards that affect their hand as well. This is the point in the hand where you either have it or you don’t. There is no more fear of draws coming in or a higher card hitting because there are no longer cards being dealt out.
Since draws are no longer calling when they miss you are not getting as much money on the river as you are on other streets. This hurts because you want to get as much value as you can with your winning hand and you have to figure out just what to do in order to get more value from lesser hands. It can get quite complicated.
Value bets are important on every street but are especially important on the river. This is the last chance to get value for your good hands so you must do all that you can to do just so. There are a few different things that you can do to get a little more value on the river.
When out of position against a bluffy opponent you want to check the river to them. This seems very obvious but a lot of players still be there thinking that their opponent must have an actual hand since they have come this far. Players that like to bluff like to bluff big. Opening them up for a bluff shove on the river is a great play to get value. You don’t even need to do anything but check to them and you get more money. Another good line out of position is to bet a smaller bet on the river to make your opponent shove all in. You want to bet just enough so that even if they just call you are still happy with what you got, but you also want them to have enough money beyond your bet that they think they can go all in and make you fold.
When you are out of position against a tight passive player you have no other option than to bet. They will normally check behind because they just want to see if they won or not. This makes the situation harder to deal with because you have a lack of options.
Against a standard opponent that you don’t have too many reads on you need to test the water with them on the river. There is normally an amount that players will call on the river just because. If there is $50 in the pot, even a $25-$30 bet would be a good bet. Your main goal is to find out just how high you can make your bet on the river and still get them to call.
Calling Too Often
There are a lot of times that you will be playing very aggressive without even having a made hand. If you have a draw and betting with it you must realize you should normally just give up on the river when you miss. A lot of players will end up making a pair or something and call the value bet of their opponent simply for that reason. You cannot let yourself get caught up in this because it will make you lose money in the long run.
The majority of your money will be won on the previous streets. On the river you have to be wearier of what hands you call down with. You only want to be calling a bet on the river if you have a great hand or if you know your opponent and have a good read why to call lighter.
On the river some players go different routes with their great hands. Some players will minbet on the river because they just want to get a little more money. Some players just shove all in hoping to double their stack. These are both normally a set up.
If a player goes all in for well over what is in the pot on the river you can be assured that they have a great hand. They do this to make it look like a bluff and to get hero players to call them. There are times that you can call this over bet on the river, but for the most part you are going to just have to believe them and fold.
The minbet on the river is another line that you can be pretty sure that your opponent has a good hand. Now calling here isn’t as bad as calling the all in play. Since there is way more money in the pot than it costs you to call a minbet, you are only losing one big blind to take a chance at winning the pot. There are players who do this just because they think that they will make you fold, but it normally is a passive player who has made a nice hand and wants to get more value. Although it isn’t that much to call this bet you will save yourself a lot of time and money by being observant of the players that do this.
You also have to watch for calling stations. These are players who simply call way too often. It is good in one aspect because you can then get more value out of them when you make good hands. You have to make sure though that you are not trying to bluff these players on the river. Their main goal is to get to the showdown and see if their hand is the best or not. With them being at the river already they are so close to seeing if they won that they almost always call here. Be very careful.