Why is it bad to bet the river with a medium strength hand?

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PokerPT2645

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From the book Applications of Holdem:

"When a player bets on the end he’s usually doing it either with a bluff to make stronger hands fold or with a strong hand to get value from weaker hands, since it doesn’t make sense to bet medium strength hands if the opponent only calls when you are beaten."

In Upswing Lab DP says the same.

So this is about polarized ranges.

I don't get what is the problem to 3bet a medium hand, miss the flop and bluff the medium hand all the way until the river and try to win with a bluff. Why should we only 3bet with the extremes? In the text says that we will only get called when we are beaten, but if our bluff with a low hand is called we are also beaten, so what's the difference between being caught bluffing a low hand of a medium hand?

I don't get the point here..

PS: Is this even relevant for 5NL? Or nobody cares?
 
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Highsolation

Highsolation

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I think what the text refers is that, once at the river, there are two options, you either have the best hand, or you don't. So, you should be betting for 2 reasons:
1.- Get value from opponent as you think you have a stronger hand than your opponent.
2.- Bluff so that your opponent might fold his better hand.

This means that if you hold for example 89, on a board like A 10 J 2 3, if you bet a decent amount, players might fold Ax hands as there are two possible straights, and you might have represented one of those straights with your betting pattern.

However, if you hold the same 89, on a board like A K 5 2 8, your pair of eights will hardly force someone with an A or a K to fold. If you bet with your pair of eights, will your opponent call with just a pair of 5 or just a pair for 2? Probably not. Will they pay your bet if they hold an A or a K? Most likely yes. So in this case it doesn't make sense to bet, and you should be calling instead.

I simplified those examples by ignoring the suits of the cards, but I think the example is clear.
 
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Phyrrura

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Caution, risk of being caught in some traps!

If you always bet your medium strength hands, decent players may adjust their play against you when they have better hands and just let you bet your mediocre ones so they can extract more chips from you.

Also, you got a good showdown value with this hands, but you don't want to lose more money than what you already put in the pot, so just check them and be happy when you earn that pot. Unless you have good read of your opponents, and know that they will often call you with bottom pairs, I don't see how this is going to be profitable.
 
Spannerdeth

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Thanks for the advice here, this should help improve my fishy casual microstakes games!
 
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andrezito38

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the game is getting harder and harder.
in my opinion the worst place to bluff is the river.
 
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fundiver199

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As others have said, the river is a very black or white street, where we only need to ask ourselfes two questions:

1) Am I ahead of the range, which is going to call a bet?

2) Can I get better hands to fold often enough to make a profit by betting?

If the answer to 1) is "yes", we can bet for value. How much we can bet depend on the strength of our hand, and how elastic we think, the opponent is. If the answer to 2) is "yes", we can bluff. How much we should bet depends on, which kind of hand, we are trying to make fold, and how elastic we think, our opponent is. If the answer is "no" to both questions, then we an "in between hand", which is also known as showdown value, and we should check.
 
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TheBackpack

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I think you should value bet your medium strength hands a decent portion of the time, because if you aren't, then your only betting the nuts. And then everyone will know to fold against you, and you will get no value ever again on river if people are paying attention.

If your betting into someone who is over folding however, or you don't beat there range of hands they are calling with, then there is no point to betting however, unless of course you are trying to bluff them.
 
thwenth1983

thwenth1983

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Play hands according to their strength

Good morning everyone, not always betting on the river with a medium strength hand is bad, it is important to pay attention to how the villain is playing this hand, analyze the board and know who the villain is whether he is a profitable player or not.
In my opinion in the micros it is not necessary to bluff, I only play value and I play mine according to the strength she has, but of course always paying attention to who the villain is, players with satck below 80bb, usually bet everything when they hit top pair, I don't take much chances and I wait for senquences or cracks and I increase my bankroll.
 
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DegenerateQuant

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The problem with overplaying medium strength hands is that you often just end up folding out worse hands and getting called by better.

It's generally more efficient to use low equity hands as bluffs, because they can actually make a better hand fold. Medium strength hands usually want to see a cheap showdown and just realize equity.
 
monkey23

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simply...because you are in the poopoo if you get raised....you are just spewing chips away...medium strength hands at the river should MOSTLY be checked for what value they have.

when to bluff the river..??....when a 'danger card' hits, and you dont think your oppo was playing for the draw, and your hand story suggests you were playing for the draw.
When an Ace hits the river...and you don't think your oppo has an Ace...try it...or maybe don't ;)
 
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fernandofcp

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Bluffing on the river is like trying to jump off a cliff without a parachute and thinking you're going to come out unscathed.
 
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UberPokerFan

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I've heard two different professionals who have teaching sites say that one of the worst mistakes small stake players make is not making enough thin value bets on the river. How does that fit into the discussion?
 
Maiuchi

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I think what the text refers is that, once at the river, there are two options, you either have the best hand, or you don't. So, you should be betting for 2 reasons:
1.- Get value from opponent as you think you have a stronger hand than your opponent.
2.- Bluff so that your opponent might fold his better hand.

This means that if you hold for example 89, on a board like A 10 J 2 3, if you bet a decent amount, players might fold Ax hands as there are two possible straights, and you might have represented one of those straights with your betting pattern.

However, if you hold the same 89, on a board like A K 5 2 8, your pair of eights will hardly force someone with an A or a K to fold. If you bet with your pair of eights, will your opponent call with just a pair of 5 or just a pair for 2? Probably not. Will they pay your bet if they hold an A or a K? Most likely yes. So in this case it doesn't make sense to bet, and you should be calling instead.

I simplified those examples by ignoring the suits of the cards, but I think the example is clear.
It is an excellent answer that I fully share, and I like what you say that when you get to the river, only two are the options you bet on.
 
ventrolloquist

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From the book Applications of Holdem:

"When a player bets on the end he’s usually doing it either with a bluff to make stronger hands fold or with a strong hand to get value from weaker hands, since it doesn’t make sense to bet medium strength hands if the opponent only calls when you are beaten."

In Upswing Lab DP says the same.

So this is about polarized ranges.

I don't get what is the problem to 3bet a medium hand, miss the flop and bluff the medium hand all the way until the river and try to win with a bluff. Why should we only 3bet with the extremes? In the text says that we will only get called when we are beaten, but if our bluff with a low hand is called we are also beaten, so what's the difference between being caught bluffing a low hand of a medium hand?

I don't get the point here..

PS: Is this even relevant for 5NL? Or nobody cares?

You CAN bet it sometimes for thin value, meaning you expect to be ahead just over half that time and get value from villain's slightly weaker hands, usually if it checks through that's a good time to thin value bet. But then you risk villain raising you with bluffs and value.

Otherwise, when you bet a medium strength hand, you cause worse hands to fold and better hands to call (if you are betting OOP checking your medium hands gives villain an opportunity to bluff and for you to bluffcatch his bluff and gain some extra value).

So, in summary, worse hands will call you, better hands will fold, it's a lose-lose situation. You should only bet when you expect villain to call you with worse. Or bet with your bluffs with the expectation of villain folding his better hands now or on a future street.

This is what's called a polar strategy. You have the top of your range which is very good hands you bet for value, and the bottom of your range which is hands that can improve but are the worst hands right now. So like 2 poles, hence "polar" In the middle you have medium strength hands that work best as check calls.

There is also merged betting, where you don't have the check-call range in the middle. This is a bit more advanced, but it's something you do when you expect your whole range is stronger than the opponents whole range (you have range advantage). In this situation you cbet ALL of your hands on the flop for a small size like 33% pot. This is a bit more advanced because then on the turn you can switch to a polar strategy or keep a merged one. If you keep betting merged you would use a small size, the logic being you want to price in villains slightly worse calling hands (and the counter logic being that the board is so dry and disconnected and draw-less that it's hard for villain to call so it's makes sense to also bluff with a smaller size). Alternatively, if you hit a turn where you can have the nuts and villain can't, you can bet polar for more than the size of the pot (and have a lot of bluffs when you do that), or you can bet polar for a more modest size like 75% pot if you think villain can still have nut hands. And you can check your medium hands and use the stronger part of your checking range to call villains bluffs.


Unlike merged betting, polar betting bets less often but uses a much larger size, like 66-85% pot, and sometimes even pot or an overbet.

If you want me to explain a bit deeper feel free to PM me :)

And yes, of all places it's the most relevant at NL5 where the skill jump from NL2 is the biggest one at micros. (unless you are playing with a whale, in which case you can shove a merged range for "thin value" because you expect them to call with slightly worse lol)
 
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ventrolloquist

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You CAN bet it sometimes for thin value, meaning you expect to be ahead just over half that time and get value from villain's slightly weaker hands, usually if it checks through that's a good time to thin value bet. But then you risk villain raising you with bluffs and value.

Otherwise, when you bet a medium strength hand, you cause worse hands to fold and better hands to call (if you are betting OOP checking your medium hands gives villain an opportunity to bluff and for you to bluffcatch his bluff and gain some extra value).

So, in summary, worse hands will call you, better hands will fold, it's a lose-lose situation. You should only bet when you expect villain to call you with worse. Or bet with your bluffs with the expectation of villain folding his better hands now or on a future street.

This is what's called a polar strategy. You have the top of your range which is very good hands you bet for value, and the bottom of your range which is hands that can improve but are the worst hands right now. So like 2 poles, hence "polar" In the middle you have medium strength hands that work best as check calls.

There is also merged betting, where you don't have the check-call range in the middle. This is a bit more advanced, but it's something you do when you expect your whole range is stronger than the opponents whole range (you have range advantage). In this situation you cbet ALL of your hands on the flop for a small size like 33% pot. This is a bit more advanced because then on the turn you can switch to a polar strategy or keep a merged one. If you keep betting merged you would use a small size, the logic being you want to price in villains slightly worse calling hands (and the counter logic being that the board is so dry and disconnected and draw-less that it's hard for villain to call so it's makes sense to also bluff with a smaller size). Alternatively, if you hit a turn where you can have the nuts and villain can't, you can bet polar for more than the size of the pot (and have a lot of bluffs when you do that), or you can bet polar for a more modest size like 75% pot if you think villain can still have nut hands. And you can check your medium hands and use the stronger part of your checking range to call villains bluffs.


Unlike merged betting, polar betting bets less often but uses a much larger size, like 66-85% pot, and sometimes even pot or an overbet.

If you want me to explain a bit deeper feel free to PM me :)

And yes, of all places it's the most relevant at NL5 where the skill jump from NL2 is the biggest one at micros. (unless you are playing with a whale, in which case you can shove a merged range for "thin value" because you expect them to call with slightly worse lol)

Also, you mentioned you don't know why not raise or 3 bet your medium strength hands. This is actually a valid play vs a small merged opponent bet. Because you expect them to be betting a large portion of their range for a small size which includes many bluffs and air, specifically this is applicable on the flop where many players will cbet their entire range for a small size of 33% pot. Your correct response is to raise their bet with your own non-polar range (this means bluffs, value, and all medium strength hands inbetween are raising), but of course you must balance this with calls or else you will be check raising far too much. Be careful and only play this way vs. regulars because many recreational players will bet small to price you in with their value hands.

So if opponent bets a merged (not polar range), you can raise with a merged range. If opponent bets with a polar range, you must play back (raise or call or whatever), using a polar range.
 
frnandoh

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1) Betting more than enough on the river (unbalanced) will make that pattern to be observed by your opponents and make them explore it. Except against very, very, very, very bad players and a lot of luck, you never will be a winner like this.

2) The range that we play on pre flops rarely are the same on the river and most times, most middle hands are folded before the river, so almost ever, our middle range on pre flops are very very different of our middle range on the river.

5) Online is where are the best players, where players are ever studying, so yes, you need that for 5NL.

3) Keep studying about ranges, memorize their schedules and trust in them. That is the easier and faster way to learn to play.

I hope you could to be helped for that tips and remember a phrase, ever: "Money doesn't accept to be disrespected".
GL GG.
 
najisami

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With a medium strength hand like you said, you definitely have some showdown value. So if it's checked to you, closing the action right there is your best option according to most pros and training material, unless you have an information or a good reason to bet. By checking back, you take whatever is in the pot without risking any more chips. On the other hand if you bet and face a raise or even a shove, you'll be forced to fold to what could be just a bluff, thus losing more money. And if they only call you, it'll be with a better hand most of the time. Betting or raising on the river without the nuts is usually a risky business.
 
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