How to Play The River

The river can make or break your poker strategy. This is not the time for emotional play, but an opportunity to make calculated decisions based on your hand and the hands that you deduce opponents might be holding.

The following poker strategy tips should help you to make the proper decisions on Fifth Street.

  • Do not make a bet unless you are willing to call or re-raise if you are raised. Do not try to bluff a hand on the river, especially if there is more than one player in the pot. You can be quite sure that no experienced poker player will be calling bets up to the river without some sort of a decent hand.
  • Many players make the mistake of trying to trap with a check-raise when they are holding the best hand or the nuts. In most cases, this is a bad play. If you decide to simply check, you are missing a last opportunity to bet. Your opponents might smell a rat and check it down too.
  • Unless you are short stacked and your choice is warranted by the pot odds, moving all-in is generally not a wise decision. This is not the time to be a bully. In most cases, only someone with a better hand than you will call. Rather, make a value bet.
  • If you have only been calling bets up to the river, generally do not try bluff with a large bet if you are holding a botched flush or straight draw. Any experienced player will see right through your plan.

Value Bets

A value bet is a bet made on the river, trying to extract as much money from your opponents as possible. Typically, you will have made your flush, straight or full-house on the river and you will be holding the nuts or at least a very strong hand which is unlikely to beaten. The size of the bet should be relatively small, as you would like to induce a call or a raise from other players.