river bet
What to Do Versus a Big River Bet (3 Simple Tips)
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This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan. Playing the river optimally is what makes or breaks your winrate.  It’s the biggest money street and you often have to make a decision for your whole stack. The amount of money in the pot by the river often paralyzes players, because they are overly focused on the pot size, which affects their decision making process.  So what should you do versus a big river bet? Well, when you ask a broad question, you tend to get a broad answer, so here it is: it depends. There’s a lot of factors to consider here: your opponent type, previous action, board runout, pot odds, your relative hand strength, just to name a few. Not a huge help, so let’s try to break it down in this article. 1. Try to Bluff Catch Versus Loose and Aggressive Players Let’s start with the type of player we are up against. Most players will primarily bet for value when they fire off a big river bet, especially at the micros.  The only exception would be loose and aggressive players. This is true for both regulars and aggrofish. You can generally call wider against aggrofish than you would against LAG regulars. The looser and more aggressive the player, the wider you should call them down.  This is an advanced poker strategy that works extremely well in today's small stakes games. BlackRain79 discusses it in more detail in this video: So in practice, this means that sometimes you should call them down with hands you wouldn’t be comfortable calling with otherwise, like top pair weak kicker, second pair, two pair on a wet board and such.  It’s important to trust your judgment in these situations, otherwise you’re better off folding earlier if you suspect you’re going to get barrelled and pushed out of the pot.  However, just because someone is loose and aggressive, doesn’t mean they will have only bluffs in their range, especially on the river. The board runout is an important factor when deciding how wide you should call. Generally speaking, the drier the board, the wider you can bluff catch.  Why?  Because your opponent sees the same community cards you see, and if they bet huge on the river, they’re basically saying that the board doesn’t scare them and they don’t care what you are holding.  On the other hand, if the river bricks (i.e. a river card doesn’t change anything significantly, because it fails to complete any straight or flush draws, for example), your more observant opponents might put you on a busted draw and try to bluff you out of the pot.  They can also have a busted draw of their own, as decently winning LAGs know the power of semibluffing on earlier streets, and know a large majority of their opponents won’t have the heart to call down their triple barrel without a monster hand. In this situation, you should look for an opportunity to bluff catch with your top pair or second pair, for example. Bear in mind that this isn’t something you should try to do often, as these kinds of situations are more of an exception than the rule, but who doesn’t love a good hero call from time to time? If you’re able to pick off a huge pot with a mediocre hand, it can do wonders to your bottom line, as most players wouldn’t have the nerve to pull it off.  It will also make it more difficult to play against you, because you’ll show that you are able to call down in less than ideal circumstances, and won’t be pushed around.  Just a disclaimer:  Know that it’s a high-risk, high reward play, and should be attempted only in specific circumstances, against specific opponents, on specific boards and against specific previous action.  You should base it on sound information and tells you’ve picked up on, not just the feeling that this guy is bluffing, I’m gonna call him down with my Ace-high. Big River Bet Example Hand #1 Effective stack size: 100BB. You are dealt A♦8♦ in the BB. A LAG reg open-raises to 3x from the BU. SB folds, you call. Pot: 6.5BB. Flop: T♣7♠6♥ You check. Villain bets 3BB. You call. Pot: 12.5BB. Turn: 2♣ You check. Villain bets 6BB. You call. Pot: 24.5BB. River: A♠ You check. Villain bets 16BB. You: ??? You should call. This is a great spot to bluff catch based on our opponent type, previous action, and the board runout. Let’s break it down. A loose and aggressive reg open raises from the button. We assume their range is very wide here, probably close to 50% of all hands. We have a decent speculative hand. We can even opt to 3-bet light from time to time, but we decide to flat call. We flop a gutshot straight draw, and we expect the villain to fire off a c-bet with pretty much a 100% of their range, which he does. The turn doesn’t change much for us, except it puts a possible flush draw on the board. The villain double barrels, but since not much has changed for us from flop to turn, and are getting about 3:1 odds on a call, we decide to continue. The river doesn’t complete our gutshot, but we do end up improving to a top pair. Is it good enough for a call? Let’s look at it from the villain’s perspective.  We didn’t give him any reason to assume we are holding an Ace. In fact, we checked three times, so if they had to put us on a range, they would assume we have a Tx hand, a busted straight or a flush draw.  Conveniently, that’s a part of their perceived range as well. The river comes with a scare card, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they tried to buy the pot there. Are we going to be good a hundred percent of the time? Of course not, but we don’t need to be. This is something that BlackRain79 talks about in Modern Small Stakes. They have a significant amount of bluffs in their range for our call to be +EV, considering their player type, their open-raising position, our passive lines, non-coordinated board and so on.  When we take all of that into consideration, we can infer that we can call profitably. As for the aggrofish, aka complete maniacs, you can widen your river calling ranges considerably. It is also a high risk, high reward play, but these players are the only ones that will have a significant amount of bluffs on the river.  Why?  Because their ranges are already extremely wide on previous streets, so it’s fair to assume they will get to the river with all kinds of busted draws, Ace-high hands, fourth pair etc. While their aggression can certainly be profitable in the short term, as even they can occasionally catch a monster hand, they will be the most significant long term losers.  You can’t outrun math. So when playing against them, you should be making more hero calls than you would usually be inclined.  Be aware that their maniacal ways are usually short-lived, so you should try to get them to donate their stacks to you before the next guy.  And you usually won’t have the luxury of waiting around for the monster hand to try and trap them.  So next time you find yourself facing a huge river bet against them, go with your gut, take a deep breath and call them down. Your winrate will thank you for it. Make $500+ Per Month in Low Stakes Poker Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Are you having trouble consistently beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?  That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $500 (or more) per month in low stakes poker games right now. These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I used to create some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the lower limits, as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide. Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now. 2. Look for Possible Completed Draws As far as all the other player types are concerned, like fish who aren’t of the aggro persuasion (which is most of them) and TAGs, you should be very careful when calling big river bets. This is especially the case if they donk bet big into you. (A donk bet is a bet made against the previous streets’ aggressor).  Look for possible completed draws and ask yourself if their previous action makes sense that way. If the answer is yes, your overpair or top two pair probably isn’t good enough anymore.  Think of it this way: would you bet big out of position on the river against someone’s previous incessant aggression without a really strong hand? You probably wouldn’t. And neither would the majority of the player pool at the micro stakes.  Big River Bet Example Hand #2 Effective stack size: 100BB. You are dealt A♠Q♠ on the BU. You open-raise to 3x. SB folds, a loose passive fish calls in the BB. Pot: 6.5BB Flop: A♦3♦Q♥ Fish checks. You bet 5BB. Fish calls. Pot: 16.5BB Turn: 8♣ Fish checks. You bet 16.5BB. Fish calls. Pot: 49.5 River: J♦ Fish bets 40BB. You: ??? You should fold. Let’s break down the action street by street. There’s not much to say about preflop. We’re dealt a great hand on the button, and we can assume the recreational player will call us down pretty wide in the big blind. We flop top two pair and should start building the pot as soon as possible. We expect to get called by a bunch of Ax hands, gutshot straight draws, flush draws, you name it. The turn doesn’t change much, but it does add a couple of gutshot draws if our opponent called the flop with hands like JT, J9, or T9, for example.  We’re still miles ahead of villain’s range, so we decide to charge them a premium for their drawing hands. We can even consider overbettting, but we go for a pot sized bet. And we get one of the worst river cards possible. The fish fires off a huge donk bet. There is nothing left for us to do but bemoan our luck and fold begrudgingly.  The Jack on the river completes a number of straight draws and a flush draw. If we go back to preflop, we should expect this particular opponent to have practically all suited junk in their range.  Fish love chasing draws, and they love playing suited junk. Nevermind the fact that the chances of flopping a flush are only 0.8%. Now, we could argue that it’s a fish, they don’t know what they’re doing, they could be bluffing. Or they could have any number of two pair hands we’re ahead of. Fair enough. But if they did have a two pair hand, for example, wouldn’t they go for a check-call option, considering such a scary board?  Even fish can see three diamonds on a board. And yes, they could be bluffing, but there is nothing in their previous history that would suggest that. You should always be on the lookout for disrupting patterns when playing poker.  If an otherwise weak and timid opponent suddenly starts blasting off big bets, they didn’t just randomly decide to mix it up a little. They are politely letting you know they have the nuts. As a rule of thumb in poker in general, calling should be the last option you consider. As the old adage goes, if your hand is good enough for a call, it’s good enough…