A Brief Study of river play

Bill_Hollorian

Bill_Hollorian

Rock Star
Many major authors make the point that in limit hold'em one should usually call the river, due to the size of the pot and a few other factors. This is actually a very weak river play. Why do they preach tight/ aggressive, but then explain that a call on the river even if you believe you are beat is the correct play? Well, it is safe that's why. By calling a bet at the river, if you are right and your hand is best will win you the pot. If you are wrong it is one more bet. WEAK! This is how they want you to play.

The truth: if your hand is best, you lose a bet because you didnt raise! And if you feel your hand is no good, you are losing a bet, which adds up.

An experiment for all of us. On the river promise to raise or fold. nothing else. The only way someone see your cards is if THEY call you!
This forces you to really engage the game. You must know by the river if you are beat. Don't play like they want you to.

Bill
 
twizzybop

twizzybop

Legend
An experiment for all of us. On the river promise to raise or fold. nothing else. The only way someone see your cards is if THEY call you!

I like this idea :).. so what if a re-raise happens.. re-raise over the re-raise or fold?

I personally try not to get to the river.. Yes I want you to give me all your chips/money but if I get the most out of you before the river and you fold. I then don't have to worry about showdown and this experiment :)
 
P

pimpim

Guest
If you didn't know...

On some poker sites (Empire Poker for example) you can see your opponents mucked cards in a showdown, it does not mather who's making the call. I use PokerOffice 2 and this information is showed in the overlay...
 
Bill_Hollorian

Bill_Hollorian

Rock Star
Umm ya... Thats not the point.

The point is that you remain aggressive even on the river. Practicing developing the skills to know if you are winning or losing by the river.

Bill
 
F Paulsson

F Paulsson

euro love
Bill_Hollorian said:
Many major authors make the point that in limit hold'em one should usually call the river, due to the size of the pot and a few other factors. This is actually a very weak river play. Why do they preach tight/ aggressive, but then explain that a call on the river even if you believe you are beat is the correct play? Well, it is safe that's why. By calling a bet at the river, if you are right and your hand is best will win you the pot. If you are wrong it is one more bet. WEAK! This is how they want you to play.

The truth: if your hand is best, you lose a bet because you didnt raise! And if you feel your hand is no good, you are losing a bet, which adds up.
Bill,

I like your experiment as a way of practising aggression and hand reading skills. But there are very good reasons for why major authors recommend just calling the river, and limiting yourself to betting or folding is going to lose money in the long run. And the run doesn't even have to be that long.

Consider this scenario:

You have
A♥A♣

Board shows
10♣10♦9♦8♦7♠

He bets. The pot is now 15 big bets, and it's one more for you to call. Do you fold here? Are you 94% sure he has you beat? Consider what could happen if you raise him. Would he call with a worse hand? Would he fold a better hand? Calling is by far the superior alternative here.

The reason what you're suggesting is incorrect is because missing a raise only loses you money the times where your opponent has a good hand that doesn't have you beat. If he's bluffing, you gain nothing from raising - he'll just fold, and the net gain for you is precisely the same as if you had called. If he has you beat, you've cost yourself a minimum of one extra big bet. There are many situations where check/calling is the best option. If you're out of position, and you suspect that your opponent has nothing but a busted straight draw, do you bet?

Why?

If you're right, he'll just fold. If you're wrong, he could have you beat. No, the correct play here is to check with a legitimate hand, and give him the opportunity to bluff. Far too often, he will, and you will have gained an extra bet. Some times he will bet with a hand that's better than yours, and you will call and lose no more than had you bet out. And yes, some times he will check a legitimate hand that you can beat. But those times won't make up for the money that you lose from denying him the opportunity to bluff, and the times that you bet right into his made hand.
 
Bill_Hollorian

Bill_Hollorian

Rock Star
I hear you...

In the hand you mention, you need to know if AA is good. If you don't you should have tossed them earlier. What about meta game considerations?

How many hands will it take until folks check stronger hands into you?
How many pots will you steal, when they give you credit for 10's full in the scenario you mentioned?
Will the players see you as action, and hang on to the river paying you off with weak draws?

It is a way more demanding style, but it is the fine line that pros make everyday. Seriously watch how often your fav. pros simply call on the end.

In the specific case mentioned, if your AA is good you lose a bet by not raising. If they are no good you lose a bet by calling. If you are beat fold, dont pay off that one last bet saying to yourself well he may have me, but Im getting pot odds to call just in case he doesnt.

Play the river just as aggressively as every other street. Calling is usually the worst option on every street, including the river.

One other thing, starting making notes, when showdowns occur, did the bettor or caller usually win?


Cool thanks F Paulson!

Bill
 
V

viking999

Visionary
I see where you're coming from, and I agree that it's important to maintain a consistently aggressive game, but I find that there are situations where it is right to call. You mention that if you are beat, you should fold. Well, I can honestly say that I've never been 100% percent sure of anything, much less anything in poker. Even the very best players are less than certain at times.

If you assign probabilities to different scenarios, you might find that you are 75% sure you're beat. If the pot odds are better than 3 to 1, then you'll lose 1 bet 3 times but win more than 3 bets 1 time, giving you an expected gain.

Of course, raising is an option, but if you suspect that his hand may be way ahead, I wouldn't recommend it, because it's just throwing another bet away most of the time (since he won't fold).

Regarding the pros rarely calling on the end, I think that may be more of a no-limit thing, because there you rarely get the pot odds to make the kind of call I mentioned above. If they broadcast more limit poker, I think you'd see them calling more.
 
Ima6T4

Ima6T4

Guest
I read in another forum where the admin. was really urging people to do the same thing- raise or fold. If there are any results from the members, I'll let you know what the numbers said Bill, and we can see what their stats added up to.
 
ChuckTs

ChuckTs

Legend
(I realize this was old, but still want to input)
Ive been reading Phil Hellmuth's Texas Holdem and basically his approach to river play is this:
If you've gotten yourself all the way to the river, then you should have a decent holding, unless you've missed a draw of course.
But generally there shouldn't be too many hands that can beat you; so making a call is often the right action.
As you get more advanced, and are able to pin your opponents on certain hands, then you can be 95% sure or more that you're opponent has you beat, and then you can make the skillful laydowns; but essentially his approach is if you are a beginner - advanced player, a call is often the best option.
(as a begginner, you might only be %80 sure that you're ahead, and should therefore call roughly 4/5 times)
 
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