Playing the right river strategy
Betting on the river is different as compared to the earlier betting rounds because of the fact that your current hand does not have any more possibility at betterment since no more cards are coming. When you are considering betting the river card, there are numerous things to take into account before you commit to a wager or perhaps determining the best way to move forward the hand – the proper river strategy is essential for maximizing the size of the pot in addition to reducing chances of losing money.
With a mediocre hand, it is always best to try and get to a showdown as cheaply as possible. Think about your opponent’s hand – did he play like he had a strong hand, or does he seem to be drawing? Did the river card help him, or was the river card a scary card for him? In short, do you think he might fold a hand that beats you? And if he bets the river, ask yourself what kinds of hands might he do this with, and can you beat those hands?
When you are quite certain you have the best cards or even the nuts, then it is best to place a value bet sized at 30-50% of the pot. A modest bet might be far more lucrative in such a scenario – after all, you want him to call with a worse hand. If he folds a worse hand, you won the pot but you did win fewer chips and that is not what you want to achieve.
When you are unsure of who has the strongest hand after the river card a good option is to check. In poker, the objective of your winnings strategy is always to maximize profits while at the same time trying to minimize your losses; this cannot be achieved if you are betting with marginal hands. Checking is not seen to be a weak play when it is done in the correct situations, and playing a weak hand on the River would be one of these situations. It is always important to have as much knowledge of your opponent’s hand as possible. This is only done by paying close attention to their betting patterns and trying to identify their cards after each communal card is turned over. In analyzing everything, if you are fairly certain your opponent will call a bet and you are only holding a marginal hand is best for you to check.
And finally, if you are in position (last to act) and your opponent checks to you, you should only bet if you are sure that you have the best hand AND your opponent is willing to pay you off with worse. The worst play would be to bet with a marginal hand in a situation where your opponent will only call if he has you beat!