The River Explained – The Last Of The Poker Community Cards
The river is the last community card in Texas Holdem. If you have been playing properly you will not see the river card unless you have a strong hand that is a favorite to win or you have a draw to a winning hand. Once the river card is turned over, you know exactly what you have. Playing decisions on the river are easier than during other round but they do require some thought.
If you were drawing to a hand you know whether you were successful or not. Obviously if you do not make your hand you will usually fold if there has been a bet and a call. If you do make a hand or had a made hand before the river then you need to access its strength to determine how to play.
When you get to the river there are two mistakes that you can make. One is to call a losing bet, which will cost you the price of a bet. The other is to fold your hand, which will cost you all the money in the pot. Obviously folding your hand will be a far more costly mistake then merely calling a bet. If there is a slight chance you may have the winning hand you should call. I’m not advocating calling with nothing but you should call if there is a chance to win. Many times the pot odds will justify making the call.
In low limit games the pots can get very large. Many times you will have a lot of players seeing the flop and many staying to see the turn. By the time the river card is dealt you will probably be getting the correct odds to call with any hand that has a possibility of winning. Look at this example. You are in a $3/6 game and you get to the river and there is $60 in the pot and you are last to act. There are two other players still active in the hand. Before any betting takes place you are getting 10 to 1 odds. If the first player bets there is now $66 in the pot. The second player calls and brings the pot up to $72. It will cost you $6 to call as well. You are now getting 12 to 1 odds for your call. If you made this same call 13 times and lost 12 times but won once you would be even. You would lose $6 in 12 attempts or $72 dollars when you lost, but would win $72 when you won. If you were to win this bet once in 12 tries, you would be ahead of the game by $6.
Bet It Out
Don’t try to get fancy on the river by attempting a check raise. As with the Turn, if you have a strong hand you should bet your hand if you are first to act. If you bet and the other player folds then they more than likely would have just checked if you had checked in an attempt to check raise. Many times a player in a low limit game will call your bet with just an ace high in hopes that you are bluffing. You want to make this type of player pay and betting is the only way to do this. On the other hand if you think that you might be beat because of a scare card on the river it might be prudent to just check and call.
You should always look closely at the river card and try to determine how it could help someone's hand. If everyone checks on the turn and there is a bet from early position when third suited card falls, you can be pretty sure you are up against a flush. If the board pairs on the turn it could give someone a full house. Because of the any ace mentality in low limit games, you should also be cautious when an ace comes up on the river. A player with a small pair and ace kicker could have made two pairs.
If you hold only top Pair and there is a raise with the possibility of a flush on the board you are beat. Seldom will a player bluff with a raise on the river when there are three suited cards on the board.
When You Win
Never show your hand if you don’t have to. When you show your cards you are giving away valuable information. You want to make your opponents pay to see your hand.
If there is a showdown, don’t throw your cards into the muck until the pot is pushed to you. If there is a discrepancy about the winning hand and you have mucked your cards you may end up forfeiting the pot.
Until Next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.