Friday, January 09, 2009

Face-up on the river

When your opponent's hand is face-up on the river, you often can make an easy bluff to take down the pot.

By "face-up," I mean situations in which your opponent has shown that he has a made hand but has also shown weakness. This combination gives you the advantage because any river bet you make looks like a value bet, usually forcing your opponent to fold.

Here are some examples:

Full Tilt Poker, $3/$6 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 7 Players

LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

Hero (CO): $689.85
UTG+1: $600

Pre-Flop: 9 9 dealt to Hero (CO)

UTG folds, UTG+1 raises to $18, MP folds, Hero calls $18

Flop: ($45) 4 A 7 (2 Players)

UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $30, UTG+1 calls $30

Turn: ($105) 7 (2 Players)

UTG+1 bets $72, Hero calls $72

River: ($249) 4 (2 Players)

UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $249, UTG+1 folds

Results: $249 Pot ($3 Rake)

Hero mucked 9 9 and WON $246 (+$126 NET)


Villain gives away his hand when he fails to continuation bet the flop. That action says that he has a high pocket pair that's afraid of the Ace. I know I'm beaten, but I also feel confident I can effectively bluff later on.

The turn is an easy call when he donkbets because I already don't believe he has the Ace. In addition, a call is consistent with what I'm representing: Ax plus.

Then when he checks the river, this bet is automatic. Betting here is simply following through with my plan.


Full Tilt Poker, $2/$4 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 2 Players

LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

BB: $911.50
Hero (SB): $1,161

Pre-Flop: 8 5 dealt to Hero (SB)

Hero raises to $12, BB calls $8

Flop: ($24) A 2 K (2 Players)

BB checks, Hero bets $16, BB raises to $48, Hero calls $32

Turn: ($120) 7 (2 Players)

BB checks, Hero bets $80, BB calls $80

River: ($280) 7 (2 Players)

BB checks, Hero bets $250, BB folds

Results: $280 Pot ($0.50 Rake)

Hero mucked 8 5 and WON $279.50 (+$139.50 NET)


I can represent an incredibly strong range of hands on AKx flops that are cold-called preflop. For all villain knows, I could have AA, KK and AK. Especially against this check-raise happy opponent, I was happy to build a pot for my bluff, even though I had very low equity with my actual holding.

The key here is to play consistently on each street, and to not give up on the river. It's also important to make a sizeable bet on these rivers both when you have a hand and when you're bluffing because both you and your opponent know how much strength you've each shown, and you need your opponent to have to pay up when he's forced to play a guessing game as he decides whether to call.

Another point is that these are great situations for overbets for value. Opponents will call overbets at about the same frequency as they would a pot-sized bet, meaning you get more value when you do have a solid holding.


Full Tilt Poker, $3/$6 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players

LeggoPoker.com - Hand History Converter

Hero (BB): $1,306.05
SB: $1,012.90

Pre-Flop: Q T dealt to Hero (BB)

3 folds, SB calls $3, Hero raises to $24, SB calls $18

Flop: ($48) 8 6 4 (2 Players)

SB checks, Hero bets $30, SB calls $30

Turn: ($108) 7 (2 Players)

SB checks, Hero bets $75, SB calls $75

River: ($258) 3 (2 Players)

SB checks, Hero bets $258, SB calls $258

Results: $774 Pot ($3 Rake)

Hero showed Q T (Queen Ten high) and LOST (-$387 NET)

SB showed 7 8 (two pair, Eights and Sevens) and WON $771 (+$384 NET)

This one didn't work out as well, mostly because my opponent was a fish. He even typed into the chat, "Such a value bet," and then he timed down and hit call.

Most competent players are afraid of getting owned by the hand you're obviously representing, meaning they're more likely to fold to your bluff. Worse players are more likely to call because they can't lay down made hands, they're curious or they want to gamble.

2 comments:

spritpot said...

By "low equity with my actual holding" do you mean no equity with 8 high? lol...nh!

-Brackchips

ctl said...

Thank you for your great poker posts, but telling that you lost "because an opponent is fish" is just stupid. You lost because you didn't judge his fishness corectly.