Value betting the river in middle-stakes no-limit games

no-limit games


As you move up in levels then one of the areas that you are going to have to concentrate on is in value betting the river. Many players are afraid of betting the river with weak one pair hands for fear of either being called by a stronger hand or raised on a poker bluff. This is an unsound fear for several reasons. Firstly it is far more difficult to bluff the river than many people realise. Just ask yourself how many times have you bluff raised the river in the last year or so after there have been several rounds of betting?

Bluff raising the river is something that players talk about but rarely do in practice. So the reality of the situation is that this is an unsound fear. But there is another powerful reason why you should not fear value betting the river with weak one pair type hands and this is to do with balancing your range against sophisticated watchful opponents. If every time you bet all three streets you are either betting a powerful hand or fresh air then astute opponents are going to know that your range is polarised.

While you will extract some folds by triple barrelling from players who are using pot control or are under bankrolled for the level, better players will figure you out and make lighter call downs. So you definitely need to balance your range here anyway in these spots and so you are not only value betting but you are also balancing your range as well so that opponents know that your range isn’t polarised.

Now in this instance when you bet the river you could either be bluffing, betting a powerful hand or value betting which gives your opponent more of a headache. It now makes them calling you on the river more difficult and bluff raising you becomes more of a problem as well if they think that you have a hand that could be worth calling with. This is where poker gets somewhat interesting because if your opponent does in fact bluff raise you on the river then they will also be doing this with a polarised range more often than not.

Very few players raise the river with thin value hands like a good one pair. They tend to call with those sorts of hands and bluff raise powerful hands or fresh air. So when someone raises you on the river then this is where you need to work back through the betting to see if their action is consistent with what the betting is actually saying. It is for this reason why middle stakes games are so fascinating because you have to be very cognisant of the fact that your opponents are watching you far more closely at NL400 than they would be at NL50. You need to allow for this and balance your ranges accordingly. Doing this will make you a far tougher player at the middle levels.