The decision whether to value bet the river is a little bit different than deciding to value bet the other streets. Normally, you should value bet your good or marginal hands to protect them from free cards you would give by checking. However, on the river there are no more cards to come, so you no longer have to protect your hand.

When considering a river bet, you need to think about what your opponents have and how they have played up to this point - both in this hand and in prior hands. You then need to compare that information to your holding and how you've played the hand and prior hands so far.

You hold the nuts...

Obviously, you want to get as much money in the pot as possible. If you're first to act, you can attempt a checkraise; however unless your opponent has been aggressive in this and prior hands, you may find her checking behind and you'll lose a possible bet she would have called. Often the best action is to be out if you're first and hope to be raised so you can reraise. If checked to, you bet of course and hope for a checkraise so you can reraise. Your course of action will depend on the type of opponent you're up against. Calling stations will call, weak players will often fold to your bets, aggressive players may raise. If you have no reads on your opponents, play straightforward and bet/raise your nut hands on the river.

You think you have the best hand...

Whether you value bet in this situation depends upon your read of your opponents. You think you have the best hand, so you want to show the hand down. But do you value bet or, if first to act, do you check to induce a bluff? If your opponents are weak or have been passive throughout the hand, a value bet is clear since they are likely to check behind unless they hold a very strong hand. Missing a bet on the river like this is expensive if you do it too often. If your opponents are aggressive or seem to have a hand they like, a check allows them to bet. At that point you can checkraise your strong hand. In any event, you want to get at least one bet in on the river.

You doubt you have the best hand...

There's not much you can do here. You'd like to see the showdown for free. So, you'll usually be checking. You can't value bet with a hand you don't want to be called. About all you can do is decide whether you'll make a crying call if your opponent bets.

You have nothing...

Well, now you really don't have many options. You can hope to check it down, in which case you're also going to fold to any bet. If you think you have no chance and the pot is small, this is often the right play. You can't really value bet, but you can bluff bet.

Discussion threads Edit

PokerWiki's guide to playing limit hold 'em
Preflop | Flop | Turn | River

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