Betting on the River in Texas Hold’em
In Texas Hold’em, the river is one of the most fascinating streets (betting round). At this point, there is no way a player can improve his or her hand; however, the card that was dealt on the river can make the difference between a winner and a loser and completely turn the table upside-down.
The last card is now out there, and players are forced to react, regardless of what combination of cards they can conjure. As a result, how the bets are made are extremely important.
If the flop, turn or river didn’t produce the results you wanted, don’t bet – check. Wait and see how the table bets and be prepared to step out if you have a marginal hand. If you bet with a weak hand, the outcomes are limited and they’re all negative.
Your opponent calls with a better hand, your opponent folds and your opponent isn’t given the opportunity to try and bluff a weaker hand. In all three cases, nothing has been gained by adding more of your chips to the pot.
If you think you have the best hand, you definitely need to bet big. This isn’t just as a means to draw more chips into your stack, but it’s also a simple case of economics. Let’s say the pot is $20. If you bet $20, you will most likely only get called three times out of every ten.
However, if you bet $5, you will almost definitely be called nine out of ten times. This breaks down to $60 won when betting $20 and only $45 when betting $5 (plus, there’s the off-chance you were wrong and you lose the pot).
Many players, especially novice ones, try to play out the table in hopes of pulling out a miracle on the river. This is a costly mistake that fails much more often than it succeeds. In many cases, a player will check or call the streets and then bet big after the river card is dealt – bigger than what would normally make sense.
This makes the bluff obvious and experienced players will see it for what it is, raking in your chips. Remember, poker isn’t about winning the hand; it’s about winning the game. Learn when to cut your losses to be able to stay strong for another hand.
A river check can be a very profitable move. Checking on earlier streets is sometimes viewed as a weak play that should be avoided, but a river check can instill doubt in your opponent’s mind, which can give you the edge.