6 Max NL Strategy Guide – River Play

Triple Barreling

Triple barreling is a picky science. You have to know what type of hands your opponent is showing up with on the river and what hands can call a shove (or PSB) and which hands can’t. I want to start off by saying that without history or with limited river play history, shoving the river is by far the most optimal play as a bluff, and betting like $300 into $350 and leaving 100 or something behind is the best for value (people interpret this as a cheap way to execute a bluff, and are just scared of the shove.

So what are good situations to triple barrel? It depends on the range you put your opponents on. My favorite triple barrel spot is the AKx or just Axx dry board where your opponent is a weak player or a donk and you know he has like AT-A2 and can’t call three streets with TPWK.

Also, calling quickly on the flop normally helps because you know exactly what they have so lets say you open OTB and someone limp/calls, flop is A92r, you cbet 8bb’s into 11bb’s he calls. Turn is a 3-K and isn’t a nine, probably bet 22-24bb’s into 27bb’s. River is again another brick, probably just shove unless you have extra behind in which case just PSB. You’ll be surprised how often you get folds.

Another common scenario is when a loosish player limps from MP-CO, you isolate, and the flop is Kqx. You cbet, he calls, turn is X, you bet again, and he calls. The river is another brick. Again, I would shove here. The strongest hand he could ever hope for to show up with is KJ and he simply isn’t doing this very often. There are players that are spewboxes that will but, you’ll know this, just note it after and exploit the shit out of them.

Raising

Bluffing

I decided to meld c/ring and raising because on the turn you should know what your plan is on the river if X occurs. For instance:

22/19 opens from MP, he’s aggressive. You call with T9dd OTB. Flop J84ssd. He cbets, you call.

Turn is 2d (the turn here can really be any non-board pairing card, also no spad)]. He double barrels, you call. (I should let it be known that if the turn is a spade this player will probably bet/fold the turn here a lot, so I would raise and depending on stacks and my exact hand I may call a shove.)

River is any spade. Lets say effective stacks on the river are 80bb’s. The pot is around 60bb’s, and your opp bets like say 30-40bb’s, this is a great spot to bluff shove (esp if you have a note that he is able to bet/fold situations like this), because he hates checking since he knows worse can call and he also doesn’t want to give up the initiative. So he bets intending to fold to a raise, so we play our hand as we would a small flush draw.

I want to talk about river c/r bluffing for a minute. For the most part this isn’t something any of you will ever do. Just simply because it’s normally a pretty complicated concept and situation that requires some type of history or reason to merit playing your hand like this. Just for the purpose of what you are learning here don’t ever do it to balance, its just FPS and spew.

When you are at the level where you want to do it to balance you’ll know, and if you are reading this, you aren’t there yet. I’m not going to go into depth about river c/r bluffing, I just want to say that:

  • ●  You need to figure out what type of hand your opponent has, and you need to come to the conclusion that he is taking the bet/fold line because (segway into my next point.
  • ●  He thinks you will c/r a hand that MAKES SENSE, some made hand that he thinks you could have.

That said lets do one more bluff spot. I’m not gonna talk about donking the river that much because it’s not something I do, but I feel like this should be thrown in.

$3/$6 – No Limit Hold’em Seat 1: X ($1,303.50) Seat 2: X ($659.20) Seat 3: X ($801) Seat 4: Very Good LAG ($848) Seat 5: X ($2,355.80)
Seat 6: Fees ($671)
X posts the small blind of $3 Fees posts the big blind of $6 The button is in seat #4 *** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RealMonies [Kc Qs] X folds

X folds
X folds
Very Good LAG raises to $21 X folds
Fees calls $15
*** FLOP *** [Jd 4c Td]
Fees checks
Very Good LAG4 bets $30 Fees calls $30
*** TURN *** [Jd 4c Td] [3h] Fees checks
Very Good LAG bets $77
Fees calls $77
*** RIVER *** [Jd 4c Td 3h] [7d] Fees bets $175

This hand exemplifies a few pretty key things about playing poker. First of all I had a plan and knew what I was doing. I called the turn simply so that I could bluff diamonds. I also knew that my opponent had the capacity to fold a strong had like two pair or a set because he realizes that his had is the same thing as a weak pair because he only beats bluffs. The theme here is, since straight draws are deceptive you can merge your range and bluff with them as though you had flush draws and got there.

Value

Value raising the river in position is really straight forward. You either made your hand or you were anticipating your opponent to bet again and now it is time to get value. Lets look a couple spots:

(6 max) – $3/$6 – No Limit Hold’em Seat 1: X ($204.05)
Seat 2: X ($600)
Seat 3: X ($588.60)

Seat 4: STD TAG ($781.45)
Seat 5: Fees ($1,358.10)
Seat 6: X($999.35)
STD TAG posts the small blind of $3 Fees posts the big blind of $6

The button is in seat #3 *** HOLE CARDS *** Dealt to Fees [2d 7d] X folds

X folds
X folds
STD TAG raises to $21
RealMonies raises to $74
STD TAG calls $53
*** FLOP *** [5h 6h 4d]
STD TAG checks
Fees checks
*** TURN *** [5h 6h 4d] [8c]
STD TAG bets $110
Fees calls $110
*** RIVER *** [5h 6h 4d 8c] [9s]
STD TAG bets $215
Fees raises to $1,174.10, and is all in

Here we decide to check back our straight draw in a rerasied pot. We make our straight on the turn and our opponent leads. The board is pretty scary right now, meaning unless our opponent has a set or some sort of two pair (both of which are difficult for him to have here) we won’t really accomplish anything by raising, thus we wait for the river so that we can put him to a closer decision due to pot odds).

This frame of logic means that on the river people bluff less often because its hard to price your opponent out of a pot. Keep this in mind when you bet and get raised on the river. The river doesn’t really change much unless our opponent has 99 or 98, but we gave him another shot to bluff at the pot, also another shot to vbet at it, since he’ll obviously fold all of his bluffs we put him in a pretty tough spot with any made hand, and hopefully he chooses incorrectly and makes the call. What I want to convey here is that there is no reason to raise the turn because we do not have to protect our hands and we want to get another bet out of our opponent with these stacks, so calling and waiting to raise the river is best.

Let’s look at a situation I described earlier, playing sets on dry boards.

You call anyone’s open with a small pair, let’s say 22 OTB. It’s a 20/15 TAG player who opened UTG.

100 effective stacks The flop is J52r. (9BB’s)

He cbets 7BB’s, you call.
Turn is 7 (any brick). (23BB’s)
He double barrels 18BB’s, you call. River is a 4 (again any brick). (59BB’s)

He bets anything, you shove. (if he checks I shove, and if he shoves I obviously call). On the river if he bets he will seldom have a triple barrel bluff, most likely he has KJs+, and will have a tough time folding getting very very good odds. Once you have established to this player that you slowplay sets on dry boards, you should fastplay a set on a dry board (adjusting, becoming tricky).

Now lets suppose that we have A5s.
We flat call a button open from the big blind.
Our opponent cbets T42ss, we decide to c/c.
The turn is a brick that doesn’t pair the board, we check/call again.
The river gets us there, any spade, so the decision is lead or go for a check raise.

Your standard here should be to just bet out some amount that you think will get called. I normally bet 60-70% of the pot, sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger depends on my opponent. This is something you will figure out over time. What situations merit a check- raise?

The only scenario where I check raise this spot are against:

  • ●  People who I know can value bet thinly
  • ●  People who I know can triple barrel a scare card.
  • ●  People who I think are generally too aggressive and spewy (sometimes I lead like 20% of pot here to induce a raise). If these criteria are not met you are going to miss you river check raise ALOT.

Mentality

Poker is going to often times hand you a 10 buy in downswing, or worse. As you move up worse becomes very standard and will happen a few times a month. You HAVE to stay positive and recognize that the only thing holding you back is yourself. Do not let the downswings get the best of you, just realize that you are a winner in the games, no matter what your immediate results are. If you keep a cool head and keep playing solid.

I really cannot stress this enough, IN TIME YOUR RESULTS CATCH UP WITH YOU, what those results are matter solely on you. Ive lost 8k over a 20k hand stretch before playing 3/6 NL, playing 4-6 tables, not really doing anything horribly incorrect. I kept my head in, my friends supported me, and I had a 20 BI upswing in about 6k hands right after that sick downswing. It absolutely would not have happened if I didn’t realize that what I was going through was normal variance and that the only thing holding me back from winning it all back and more was myself.

Health

I don’t eat right but I should, and so should you. I don’t know anything about eating right, but look into it. For god sake workout every day. Working out is really tough the first 1-2 times, but after that you will want to do it and might even enjoy it. Ship an ipod and you’ll be fine.

Upswings

Play as many hours as possible when you are on an upswing. It is equally important to avoid playing while tilted, and play as much while winning.

Session Length

I normally go for two hours then break for a while, then don’t play for the rest of the day or play another session. Whatever works for you, just don’t feel like you have to play for 5 hours a day the same hours and that you can’t split it up or that its the best way, just whatever maximizes your focus is most important.

Multi Tabling

You will never get any better playing more than 4 tables. Playing 6-8 you’ll make good robotic decisions if you are a winner in the game. Playing more than 8 you will make mediocre or crappy robotic decisions. If you want to in the long run get better and make the most money, play 4 tables. (or less)

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