The River

The river is everybody’s favorite street. This is where the big action goes down and fortunes are won or lost. Millions of dollars and poker immortality hang in the balance. Icy stares meet sweaty palms and there is a decision for every last chip. Perhaps I am being a bit melodramatic here.

Unfortunately our microstakes cash games will rarely offer such white knuckle excitement. But on average this is where the biggest bets will be made. And occasionally we will be faced with some big decisions for our stack. So we need to make sure that we are doing things right here.

However, since we created a plan for the hand on the flop, the river, just like the turn, shouldn’t provide too many difficult decisions for us. But it isn’t quite as cut and dried as the turn so I will have a fair bit more to say. Since there are no more cards to come after the river is dealt, we can break our decisions down based on the strength of our hand and our opponent’s final range.

No Pair Hands

Just like on the turn, whether IP or OOP, with no pair hands on the river most of the time the best play for us is simply going to be to give up. However there are some spots where there is value to be had in check/calling. And these situations arise almost solely against fish.

Fish will often bluff the river with their missed draws. The great thing about their “bluff” though is that it is usually for a very small amount such as 1/4 the size of the pot. With such a small bet, we only need to be right a small amount of the time for a call to be profitable.

Now obviously when I talk about calling here with a no pair hand I am talking about the top of our no pair range which is ace high. There is no more embarrassing situation in poker than getting value-towned by a worse no pair hand. So I am talking about ace high hands only and usually only the strongest ones at that, AJ or better.

While fish make it easy on us with their small bet, the board texture can also help us out a lot in these spots. The first thing to look for is the obvious draws. Did they miss or did they come in on the river?

For instance, consider a board that reads like this on the river:

And you have:

We will assume that we made a standard cbet on the flop against a fish and got called. The turn went check/check and then the fish leads on the river for 1/4 pot. This would be a fairly easy call with AK high. There are so many missed draws on this board. Hands like,

are just a few of the kinds of hands that fish will have called with on the flop which our AK is still ahead of. I just want to be clear however that if they can make anything like a reasonable sized bet, you should fold most of the time. And by reasonable I mean about 1/2 of the pot or more.

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