Poker River Play and Strategy
Poker river play and our poker strategy at the river will now hopefully take us closer to showdown in a poker game. If all goes right during a poker hand, you rarely get to the river with a hand that has little chance of winning at showdown, because bluffing here is often costly, questionable and nothing that this poker school recommends.
You’d better get to this street with the winning hand in a nice big pot you built earlier, this should be your foundation for your poker strategy at the river. Apart from a couple of rare exceptions you shouldn’t chase with draws, so you shouldn’t get to the river with a busted draw, either because you shoved all your chips in on an earlier street or because you had to fold on the turn.
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You might also bluff your way to the river sometimes, but then you should be extra careful when to fire another barrel. Betting on the river is where the big money comes in to the pot, so it’s always more costly to bluff here than before. In general, you’d better get here rarely, only when you have the right hand to play.
Betting On The River In Poker?
The good news is that with no more cards to come, there’s only one uncertain variable to take into account, and that’s your opponent’s hand. Since all five community cards are known on the river in poker, the strength of your hand is final.
The preflop play in poker, and poker strategy from the turn, includes the uncertainty of the outcome of your hand. This uncertainty is now all gone and the only thing to focus on is valuating you opponent’s hands and will to bet. Judging your hand’s relative strength determines whether to bet or not.
Very weak players will call with useless hands too, so you should widen the range of hands you value bet with. This means betting hands you’d normally choose not to play with against decent opponents. In some cases though, you might even check two pairs if you think that your bet would be called by better hands only. Strategy decisions like these can be tough at times, but you’ll get better at it with a lot of practice during play.
Since the river is the betting round where most of the money gets in the pot, missing out on an opportunity to value bet means quite a big loss, even if sometimes you overlook that because you’re happy with winning the pot.
Some weak player type in poker games will realize that the only way to win the pot with a busted draw on the river is by bluffing at the pot. This is usually a huge bet on the river after calling on all previous streets. It can be exploited even out of position if you know your opponent’s such tendencies well enough.
If he calls his way to the river where he would fold to any further action – assuming he has a missed draw – it can be a good play to check to make him think it’s an ideal spot for a bluff. You don’t risk much value, because he’d fold to a bet most of the time anyway, but by checking you might be able to induce an expensive mistake by him.
Never play your strong hands this way if you have reason to believe that your opponent has a made hand, because he will check back a ton of hands he’d call a river bet with.
Another thing to keep in mind is that some weak players love to slowplay their big hands all the way to the river, where they will likely try to make up for their passive play on earlier streets by overbetting their hand. This is most typical after the turn goes check/check.
Conclusion On Poker River Play Strategy
On the opposites of the poker flop, on the river you should only try to focus on what range of hands your opponent would call a bet with. Don’t just look at your hand and bet if you think it’s strong, you need to play with a deeper poker river play strategy.
If you think your opponent will call most of the time, then bet bigger. If there’s a small chance that he can call, try to value bet smaller.
There’s another play I haven’t mentioned yet, the river bet/fold out of position. Many players go for a check/call instead of a bet/fold on the river, and while it’s reasonable in some cases, it’s rarely the optimal play. The reason for this is that most hands that you have beat will check back, and only those that have you beat will bet.
If you bet, your opponent will only raise with very strong hands, so you can easily fold the worst hand. And there can be a lot of weak hands in your opponent’s range that he would check back but calls a bet with.
If you’d call after checking anyway then it doesn’t even cost more to bet. What’s more, by making your opponent fold (with hands he’d have checked back with) you don’t have to show your hand, and that’s an advantage of this play too.
- Value bet, value bet, value bet.
- You should rather bet than check with marginal hands!
- Backdoor flush is just a myth.
Now that you have learned more about the right river play and poker strategy on the river; sign up to play poker and get your first deposit bonus plus ticket to New Depositor Freerolls.Download Free Poker Software Get FREE Bonus + Freeroll Tickets
Good luck at the poker tables!
Team Chocolate Poker