Many poker players are confused about playing the river. Often players will fire two barrels as a semi bluff, miss there draw and be totally unsure whether or not they should triple barrel to get there opponents off there hand. Other times players will have a solid read that there opponent is weak but lack the guts to follow through with a third barrel. Hopefully, the tips lined out below will give you enough confidence to follow through on the river and allow you to read your opponents ranges with razor sharp precision.
This is the most common spot when you want to triple barrel as a bluff. Frequently, you will get turn cards that give your opponent obvious equity, frequently they are cards that put lots of open ended straight draws and gut-shot draws on the board. Frequently your opponent will have a weak hands such as a pair and a gut-shot or a pair and an open ended straight draw. They will call your turn bet because they figure to have equity but fold to the river bet when they miss that equity.
A good example of what I’m talking about would be say 9T4 flop, where the turn is 7 or an 8. Hands like 89 when the 7 turns will be a pair and an open ended straight draw on the turn, they will call the flop and turn but fold the river when they don’t improve. On 8 turn, 78 becomes a pair and a straight draw, JK and TJ will all peel the turn and fold to a river bet when they don’t improve.
These will frequently be river overcards that strengthen your overall range and weaken your opponents range. As the preflop raiser you are more likely to have big cards in your range, so turn and river overcards to the board will in general weaken your opponents overall range.
For example, your raise preflop with 89s, the flop comes down J42, you c-bet and he calls, turn comes down T, you decide to barrel your straight equity, he calls, your now putting him on Jx. The river brings an A and you decide to barrel hoping to get your opponent to fold Jx. The reason the A is a good card to barrel is that lots of your semi-bluffing range would have hit that river, you could have KQ AQ AK AJ in your range quite easily. Your opponent would struggle to find any complete air in your range and will most likely fold his Jx a high proportion of the time.
You want to look for spots when your opponent thinks you can never be bluffing or have very few bluff hands. Lets say you raise preflop from early position with 89s again, flop comes down A52 and you have no pair and a backdoor flush draw. You make the standard c-bet on the dry board and your opponent calls, turn comes a 2 but brings you a flush draw, in this spot you will almost always be giving up with all your air hands, so you decide to semi bluff and take another shot at the pot, your bet looks super strong and your opponent will most likely put you on an ace. Your opponent thinks for a while and calls, the river misses your flush draw but you feel like you can represent a super strong range. You would rarely, if ever can be bluffing in this spot, you make a solid looking 3/4 pot bet and your opponent folds all weaker one pair hands than AJ and you pickup a nice pot.
Return to the Poker Strategy Articles Contents page.