The river is truly home to some of the hardest decisions that you will make as a poker player. You will have to deal with things such as hero calls, as well as triple bluffs and folds. The pot size is the biggest it will be when you are playing at the river and it’s safe to say that a great call can easily make your session. If you choose to go with a mistimed bluff, you may lose your entire stack.
Every player will have a range that has been shaped by the actions they took before. By the time a player reaches the river, their hand will start to become defined. You should be trying to range your opponent on every street. Take a note of everything, including their preflop, their post-flop moves and even the sizes of their bets. You will also need to take note of how they react to bets from other people too. The more aggressive action they have put out there, the stronger their range should be. Spots where their play has been passive will show their range as being wider, or weaker. You should be asking yourself what your opponent’s preflop looks like, what hands would they check back in position and even if their range is capped. Questions like this will help you to determine the range of your opponent and it will also help you to make far better decisions going forward. If you want to practice poker and defining ranges, then playing online is a good place to start. Sites such as GGPoker have a lot of games for you to choose from.
Use Pot Odds
Pot odds are very crucial when you are on the river as they can help you to make the right decisions. There is no more action after the river so your pot odds are truly the best metric that you have when it comes to calling or folding. When you look at the flop and turn, where there are implied odds and there are ranges at play, you will often hear professionals say that they need to be at X% by the time they call. Pot odds are usually done as a ratio, such as 2-1. You can easily convert this into a percentage if you want, such as at 33% for example. Calculating the pot odds is a messy process, so keep this in mind.
Focusing on Card Removal
Card removal is also known as blocking. It is a factor on nearly every street but it isn’t as much of a priority on the flop or the turn. The main reason for this is because when there are still cards to come, people will focus way more on bluffing or using hands that have equity over a calling range. This consideration is not at all relevant if you are on the river. The bluffs will have around a 0% equity when they are called. Another reason why removal is so important is because it impacts the range of the opponent. Ranges are defined and they are also narrower. As always, you want to bluff with hands that are likely to remove any value combinations from the range of the opponent. Removal can also play a role when you are calling on the river. It’s less of an impact though. All in all, you will decide whether to call with your hand based on equity. If you can wrap your head around things such as this then you can be sure to come out on top the next time you play poker. You may also find that you are much better at dealing with cards when they are on the river, so keep that in mind if you can.