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Betting on the River

  There are two main reason to bet on the river, when all the cards are out, and you are first to bet.  The first is to induce a weaker hand to put more money into a pot that you think you are going to win.  The other reason is to get a better hand to fold when you have the second best hand.  ( You can also make a bet as a pure bluff when you have absolutely nothing that will be covered in a later section.)

  Poker betting on the end with the best hand is called betting for value and it will probably be the most common reason that you will bet of the end.
  There is a two-part question that you will have to ask yourself before you bet for value on the end and the answer to both of those questions has to be “Yes.”  That question is, “Does my opponent have a worse hand than I do and will he call with it?”  if his hand is better than yours, then you lose a bet and a pot when he calls.  If he has a worse hand than yours, but he would not call if you bet, then you have risked a bet for a pot that you were going to win anyway.  You also risk a raise if you’ve misread his hand, and you lose a bet and the pot because you’ll have to fold.
  You can see that ideally, you win the most when he has a hand worse than yours and he calls your bet with it.  If the answer to either part of your two-part question is “No,” then you should usually check.
  Another time to bet on the river is when you missed your straight or flush draw and feel that your opponent did also, but holds two big cards.  You feel that if you check and show that hand down, you’re A♥ J ♦ will lose to his A ♠ Q♣.  You should consider betting in these situations because your opponent will be hard pressed to call you with only Ace-high.

  There will also be a few times when he will have made a pair but will not call with it.  This is not the same as bluffing because in Texas Hold’em, two big cards is often a good, legitimate hand at the end.  Sometimes, because of the community card nature of Texas Hold’em, A ♦ K ♣ is the best hand at the end.
  There is another time to bet on the river, and the reason is unique to Texas Hold’em.  Often the flop will not help anyone and opponents will check it to you.  When the turn card doesn’t help anyone it will be checked around again.  When it is checked to you two or three times, your opponents are in effect telling you to bet it so they can fold and get on to the next hand.  They have only a big blind in the hand and they’re willing to let it go to get on with the game.
  There is another situation to be aware of when it comes to betting on the river and it’s what I call an “Afraid You Won’t Bet” bet.  Here is the way a typical hand will go in this situation: There is a bet and raises on the flop and a silent player just calls.  On the turn there is another bet and one or two raises and this same silent player still just calls.  The river card comes and this silent player bets it right out, even though he’s certain that someone else was probably going to bet anyway.  He bet because in his mind there was a small chance it would be checked and he did not want that to happen.
  This is how you should analyze the situation:

  • He has a great hand.  Why else would he bet if he thought there was probably going to be a bet anyway?
  • He fully expects to win the hand and did not want to risk losing a bet, especially since he knows he’s going to win the pot no limit texas holdem .
  • He doesn’t care if his bet gives away the fact that he has a strong hand.  He knows that there are some other good hands out there that will have to call because of the strength of their hands.  He also knows that because of the previous action thee will probably be other callers just because of the pot odds. 
  • He normally has exactly whatever it is he’s representing, which is usually the nuts.
  • The last card did not hurt him, even if it appears to have completed the draws that his opponents might have been playing for.  He doesn’t care if they made their hands or not.  He will often have the nut full house.
  • This play is often made by an older, conservative player in early position and he doesn’t care if it gives away his hand.
  • This is a very reliable tell in low limit Hold’em.  Often the spectators in the hand will say something like, “Oops, another country heard from, “or “ It broke out in another spot.”

If you keep track of the times that you see this situation occur, you’ll see that you can usually throw away some very good hands without having to call that one last bet.  Understanding and believing this will save you a lot of money over the years.

Raising on the River
  There’s not much to say about raising on the river except that you should almost always expect to win the hand when you do raise.  Your raise cuts your pot odds in half for those bets that go in on the river.  You are getting only even money for your raise.  A couple of miscellaneous thoughts will close out this section:

  • I have never Seen a check-raise bluff on the river in low limit Hold’em.
  • Don’t raise with the smallest possible straight, flush or full house.

Split Pots
  Playing when you might possibly have a split pot is fairly simple and straight forward.  The two main guidelines to keep in mind are:

  • Don’t automatically assume that you have a split pot just because it’s possible to have one.
  • You should always put in the maximum number of bets and raises any time you have the nuts, even if you think the pot might be split.  You have absolutely nothing to lose if, on the river, you have the nuts and have the option of reraising a raiser.

You should also put in the maximum number of raises on the turn, even though you might be facing a draw to a better hand and the river card could beat you.
You will always be a favorite if you have the nuts on the turn and a single opponent has a draw to a better hand than yours.  Referring to the table Drawing Poker Odds From a Deck of 47 Unseen Cards on page 204, you can see that a player drawing to a straight, flush or full house has only between an 8.7% and 21.7% chance of beating you with one card to come.  You will usually be a favorite against two other players when you have the nuts with one card to come but you should be careful when facing three or more opponents on the river.

You ordinarily would not want to play head-up hands that could end in a split pot.  There’s no future in playing poker when all the money you can expect to get out of a pot is the money you put into it.  The type of hand that frequently results in split pots is a big/little hand.  That would be a hand like A ♦ 3♥ ,K ♠ 5♣ or Q ♦ 4♣.  This is because if you pair your big card the rest of the hand will be completed by the board and your other pocket card will not come in to play.  For example, you hold A♣ 2♦ and the board is A ♥ K ♠ T ♦ 9♣ 7♦.  Another player holding an Ace with a bad kicker will split the pot with you.
It is actually a good play to muck your hand when you flop a pair of Aces with a poor kicker, especially if you are facing many players and there is a lot of betting.  The best you could hope for is a split pot and you will most likely lose the hand anyway.
Even though I have advised you to raise and reraise whenever you have the nuts, it seems that most low limit players just call when it’s apparent to them that they’re going to split the pot.  This is especially true when you’re head-up on the river and it takes only an Ace in the pocket to split the pot.  When you have the nuts against two or more opponents on the river you should definitely put in the maximum number of raises possible, and this is especially true if you have to use both of your hole cards to make your hand.  It’s very likely one of the other players will also have the nuts and you’re “chopping up” the third player.

There’s a problem hand here and it’s when you have the nuts and a possible split pot on the turn, and the river card is a card that could beat you.  For example, you hold A ♦ Q♠ and the board is K ♥ J♣ 5 ♦ T ♥, giving you the nut straight on the turn.  You and a single opponent put in a bet and three reraises.  The river card pairs the board, making a possible full house.
If your opponent is first and bets in to you, you should only call because you have nothing to gain by raising and his bet does not necessarily mean he has the full house.  However, if you bet first and get raised, you are probably beat because players just do not raise on the end if they expect to split the pot anyway.  Players see it as a waste of time and if they do raise you, it’s because it’s not a waste of time in their mind, which means you’re poker bad beat.

Check-Raising
  You cannot check-raise all by yourself.  All you can do is check with the intention of raising if there’s if there’s a bet.  So it follows that if you intend to check-raise then you should be very certain that a player close to your left will bet when you check.

  There is often an objection to allowing check-raises in low limit and home games but the objections are not logical.  It’s argued that checking and then raising is sneaky and underhanded because (now brace yourself) it disguises the strength of your hand and you are using an element of deception in a poker game. The objections a lays come from the weaker, less experienced poker players, and in my experience, players who want to play poker to win your money, but want a free ride from you when you have them beat.
  The next time you get a complaint about your check-raise, you should ask the complainer, “How is it that I’m smart enough to figure out that I’m going to raise when you bet”?  That usually end the objections to check-raise right there.  You should always want to play check-raise because the more options that a good player has (that’s you), the more money you can make at the game.

  You would check-raise for most of the same reasons that you would raise, but because check-raising requires players to call two bets, it places an emphasis on getting more money into the pot and getting players out of the hand.  A player who check-raises to make you call two bets cold usually wants you to fold while a player who lets you call one bet and then raises you and other players, wants you to call.  This is a big clue to the strength of his hand, especially if he could have made you call two bets cold but did not.
  If you have a great hand, you should be acutely aware of the position of any pre-flop raiser, if there was one.  His position relative to you is critical in deciding whether or not to bet your hand right out or attempt to check-raise.  If the raiser is on your immediate left then a bet from you will probably be raised and the other practical poker players will have to call two bets cold with the prospect of a reraise from you.  If, however, the raiser is on your immediate right, then everyone will call when you bet and they will probably call again when the player on your right raises.  Depending on your goal, you can use the position of the other raiser to help get other players out of the hand or help get more money in to the pot.
  If there’s a pre-flop raiser on your left, you should get into the habit of checking good hands to him on the flop and turn.  You make more money by occasionally doing this.  Since he raised before the flop, it looks natural for him to bet on the flop.
  If you bet first, knowing that he’s probably going to bet, then you have “cut off the raiser.”  This indicates that you have a super hand and kills your action.  You won’t get called as often because your bet is telling everyone that you can beat a raiser and that your hand is so good that you can’t afford to miss a bet, even if it means giving away the strength of your hand.

  Players will call the pre-flop raiser because it’s expected that he’ll bet no matter what comes on the flop or if he has a hand or not.  You should take advantage of this by checking your good hands to him on the turn and then raising after everybody has called his bet.  You win more money because they think they’re calling his hand and not yours.  Obviously, if everyone knew that it is your hand they should be worried about, you would get a lot less action.  Your check-raise disguised that fact and made you more money.


  If you want to check-raise, how do you know that a player on your left will bet if you check?  Well, you can never know for sure, but there are a few factors that can help increase the likelihood that there will be a bet.  The first consideration is the other player’s position.  The earlier the position he is in, the better the cards he should be holding.  This makes it more likely that he’ll bet on the flop.  If he raised before the flop, then he is very likely holding good cards and he’ll bet on the pair flop poker.

  If he’s a loose player, and especially if he’s drinking, he’s more likely than average to bet on the flop.  If he’s just won the last two or three pots, he might bet just to see if he can keep his rush going.
  A player who has a lot of chips is more likely to bet weak and marginal hands, which means that he’ll be betting a lot more often than the strength of his hand warrants.  You can check to this type of player more often.
  High limit players who are in a low limit game like to bet much more often than they should.  This is because they are accustomed to making moves and winning hands without a showdown as happens so often in a big limit game.  Sometimes they feel they can bully low limit players and feel they are too good for the limit they’re currently playing.  They don’t give free cards (and neither should you), and they push their hands when they have small statistical advantages.  For all of these reasons you can count on them betting more often than the other players in the game.  This in turn means that you can check with more confidence tat they’ll bet.
  You also have to estimate how the flop might have helped a player on your left.  A good example would be if the player on you left.  A good example would be if the player 3♣ and you held 3 ♥ 3 ♦.  It is very likely that you can check-raise with your hand on the turn because of the K ♦ and Q ♥ on the flop, and the likelihood that it helped the pre-flop raiser.

  Because of the fact that the bet doubles on the turn, a lot of low limit players who make good hands on the flop wait for the turn to bet.  It helps disguise their hands and it gets a lot more money into the pot since the bets are twice as large as before.  Keeping in mind that the turn is when you should bet with almost anything (because this is where the garbage hands get out rather than call a large bet with a small pot), you should be wary when there are a lot of players but there is no bet.

  The later you are in position and the more players there are who have checked it to you, the more likely it is that you are going to be check-raised.  When this happens, and thee is a bet on the river, you should be more cautious than usual about being check-raised and facing better than average poker hands.  Very often, when there is no bet on the turn, it’s because someone checked with the intention of raising but there was no bet to raise.
  Check-raising on the turn is different than check-raising on the river because the check-raiser on the turn expects you to call his raise and then call another bet on the river.  This means that he has a great hand and he does not fear the river cards beating him.  You would be will on your way to becoming a great player if you could learn to throw your hand away in these situations and don’t call the check-raise, even though you would only have to call one more bet to see the river card.

The check-raise has told you that you don’t have the correct odds to draw even one more card.  This is especially true when the pot is huge and the check-raiser  knows that because of your position and the pot odds, you’d call anyway.  One thing that you know for certain is that this is what to do, remember that you know that at least two things:

  • You know what your hand is,
  • You know that your opponent’s hand is either better or worse than yours.
  • All you have to do is ask yourself, “Would he play his hand like this if it were worse than mine”?  This is easier than trying to figure out exactly what poker hand he might have.  Don’t fall into the trap of trying to guess exactly what his hand is because you’ll never know for sure and it often could be any one of many possibly great hands.  Which one it is doesn’t really matter.  Once you’ve determined that his hand couldn’t possibly be worse than yours, that’s all you need to know.  As I said earlier, disappoint him and get on to the next hand.

Sometimes you’ll be in a game and over the course of a few hours the player on your left will, well, just beat the hell out of you.  Every time you’re in a pot with him he beats your brains out with the nuts or makes two pair with a five kicker to your two pair with a four kicker.  Every time you check and call his bet, you lose.  Every time you bet, he raises you and wins.

This is a common situation and it’s just custom-made for check-raising.  All you have to do is start checking your betting hands to him and raise when he bets.  He’ll be more likely to bet since he feels he has a psychological superiority over you and he’ll be rudely surprised when he’s check-rasied.  If it works, and you win the hand, you should do it one more time when you’re certain you have the winner.  This will makes him have doubts about what a check from you really means, and fearing a check-raise, he’ll start to check behind you.

What you have done is trained him to check to you.  You won’t have to call as many bets on the river when you have a marginal hand and you’ll start to win more hands because you’ll now be able to show down weaker hands without having to fold on the river.  Many times both you and your nemesis on the left will have marginal hands and you’ll show it down more often on the river without being bullied out of the pot.

Don’t forget that you can also check-raise when you’re on a draw.  If the odds of making your hand are greater than the pot odds, then you’d like to have as much money in the pot as possible.  You normally need many players in the starting poker hand concepts to make it correct to check-raise on a draw, which is why you don’t see this play very often.
Also, most low limit players don’t like to check-raise on a draw even when it is mathematically correct to do so.  That is why you don’t see this play that often in low limit poker.  This is also why, when you do decide to make this play, your hand will probably be well disguised if the flush or straight cards comes on the river.  Everyone will just “Know” that the flush or straight card didn’t help because you already had your hand when you check-raised on the turn.  Because of the pot odds required, a check-raised on the turn.  Because of the pot odds required, a check-raise with only a few players in the hand is not likely to indicate a draw.
You should not slowplay when you flop a low set (2’s through 8’s) because of the possibility of being beat on the turn or someone picking up a draw that can beat on the river.  When possible, you should consider using the tactic of check-raise to protect your hand by making the other players call a double bet cold.  Make them believe that an overpair in the pocket is no good, if you can.  Often, it’s worth winning the pot right there without a fight.
You should not be upset if you flop a small set and win a small pot on the flop.  It’s better than slowplaying your hand and losing a big pot.  An exception would be if you’re head-up and the possibility of another card hurting you is not that great, but you should definitely bet it right out against a large field.
It’s unlikely that you can hit perfect-perfect to make a great hand, so those times when you do, your hand will usually be very well disguised.  The other players know this also and they will usually (and correctly)  discount the possibility that it happened.  Keep in mind that if you have to hit perfect-perfect to make a hand, it’s because you probably had absolutely nothing on the flop.

The fact that you would call on the flop with nothing is really what disguises your hand.  The other players will put you on several different hands on the flop and try to narrow it down from there, but one hand that they’ll never put you on is “nothing.” This makes a check-raise attempt more successful than usual.
There’s a lot to say about check-raising but that does not mean that it is a big part of the game, especially in low limit.  If you are in a hand and you are genuinely undecided about whether to check-raise or not, go ahead and bet your hand right out for value.  You will definitely make more money by sticking to a simple, basic strategy rather than trying to get fancy.  You should usually bet when you’re strong and check when you’re weak.  Believe it or not, you make the most money this way and you do not necessarily give away your hands by playing them like that.

Bluffing
  This is the subject that for some reason excites everyone.  I know that whenever I tell someone that I am a poker player, one of the first questions I get is, “Do you bluff a lot”?  Yes I do, but it’s not that exciting and it’s a common and ordinary occurrence in a low limit Hold’em game.
  Bluffing in a limit hold’em poker guide Game is usually a simple matter of mathematics coupled with an elementary understanding of how to read tells.  Because Hold’em is pretty much an automatic game when it comes to decision making,  You will encounter certain situations over and over again in the game.
  Bluffing in this game is a matter of mathematics because of the simple concept of pot odds.  If there is $80 in the pot on the river and you bet $ 8 to try to steal that pot when you have nothing, then you are getting 10 to 1 on your money.  Therefore, you need at least an 10 to 1 chance of winning the pot.  If you bluff on the end ten times for a total investment of $ 80, then you need to succeed on the eleventh try in order to win back the money you invested on the other ten times you bluffed and failed.

  As you can see, your bluff needs to succeed only a small percentage of the time for you to show a profit at bluffing.  As a matter of fact, if you win the pot most of the time that you attempt a bluff, then you are not bluffing often enough.
  Here’s another way to look at it: Let’s say that you just sat down in the game, you flopped an open-end straight draw and neither the turn or river cards helped you.  You decide to try a bluff on the river and you bet $ 8 into an $ 80 pot, representing a good hand to the other players with better hands than yours fold and you win the pot without having to show your hand.  You are now $ 80 ahead on attempted bluffs, and you’ve played only one hand.
  If you mentally set that $ 80 aside and use it only for bluffing opportunities, you can see that you can attempt to bluff ten more times, and lose all ten of those hands, and still not be a loser when it comes to bluffing.  One success in eleven tries is all it takes to break even, and obviously anything better than one in eleven tries will show a big profit.
  If you estimate your chances of succeeding at your bluff attempt to be better than one in eleven, then you will show a huge profit in this situation.  Even if you win only two of eleven times you bluff, you will have a positive expectation.
  It is wrong to have a policy of never Bluffing in Hold’em.  Because of the community card aspects of the game, you will often be in a situation where you have only Ace-or King-high at the river, and your opponent has only a slightly better hand, but it is a hand that he would not call a bet with.  If you check, you lose when everyone gets to show their hand without having to call a bet on the river.

  There are many times in this game when everyone missed his straight and flush draw and ended up with nothing and all it takes is a bet to win the pot.  Of course you’ll have to learn from experience when these times are, but they occur so frequently that it is worth your time and effort to recognize bluffing opportunities.