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How to Play the River

The river is the last street in a hand of No Limit Texas Hold’em, and it’s easily the most complicated street to master. And the stakes are high. Given the fact that the pot size exponentially increases when we make bets on each street, we often find the biggest bets and the most all-ins on the river. On top of that, the river plays differently than other streets. Most notably, we no longer have draws or semi-bluffs. We simply have value bets and bluffs. As a result, we need to drill down into how often we should bluff vs value bet and what our bet sizing should be. It’s time to roll down the river. Bluffing and Value Betting Poker is all about frequencies. We don’t want to do anything too much, or else we become easy to read and exploit. On the river, this means we need to mix up our value bets and bluffs. After all, if we only ever value bet, then our opponents will know to fold to us, and we’ll never get paid off. There’s a simple formula we can follow: the percentage of bluffs in our range is equal to the amount that our opponent needs to call divided by the total pot they could win. Essentially, it comes down to pot-odds and making sure our opponents aren’t in a win-win situation.

A correlation of this equation is that when we use larger sizing, we can bluff more often. This is intuitive because smaller bets are easier to call, making them less effective. Try following the following chart: Bet size in % of potOptimal % of bluffs in range33%20%50%25%100%33%200%40%300%43% As you can see, a more aggressive player who makes bigger bets will want to bluff more often, but there’s also a cutoff point where we only see marginal returns. Also, don’t forget to check sometimes! Our checking range should be a mix of our worst hands and 5-10% of premium hands to protect this range. Value Bet Sizing Another major factor on the river is how much to value bet when you’re ahead. We recommend picking two bet sizings, a small one and a large one, to be your default values. That way you can pick the large one when you’re way ahead and the small one when you’re only marginally ahead.

Basically, bet somewhere between 10% and 50% of the pot when you’re betting with thin value, and bet between 67% and 500% of the pot when you’re holding the nuts. This will let you get the most EV out of your value bets. Try it Now! POKERRRR2 with your Buddies!


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