Keep it simple

I’ve been working on my river play lately. I’d been trying the play where a flop is still multi-way on the river and I just call a bet to me with what I know is the best hand, to try to induce other players behind me to call. However, this play is one I’ve decided is probably too advanced for the limits that I play. Case in point:

Pre-flop: Hero posts $5 in late position.

maxxfox folds. jim4846 folds. AALiefHebber folds.
eetbacon folds. papa burgandy raises to $10. JRambo
folds. xXxOxXx re-raises to $15. Hero calls.
papa burgandy calls.

Flop (board: 6c 9h 5h):

xXxOxXx bets $5. Hero raises to $10. papa
burgandy calls. xXxOxXx calls.

Turn (board: 6c 9h 5h 6h):

xXxOxXx checks. Hero checks. papa burgandy

River (board: 6c 9h 5h 6h 7c):

xXxOxXx bets $10. Hero raises to $20. papa
burgandy calls. xXxOxXx calls.


Hero shows 9d 9c.
Hero has 9d 9c 6c 9h 6h: full house, nines full of sixes.
papa burgandy mucks cards.
(papa burgandy has Jc Jd.)
xXxOxXx mucks cards.
(xXxOxXx has Ks Kc.)

So even with three hearts on the board, a possible straight on the river, and my aggressive action on the flop, both of these gents call my river raise with overpairs (neither of them holding even one heart).

In low limit hold ’em, there is just no reason to get tricky on the river. Unless opponents show an ability to fold, just calling with the nuts (also the opposite play, betting or raising on a bluff) cannot be the best play. They probably have the “call any” box checked already anyway.

9 replies on “Keep it simple”

The third heart makes a flush possible, which I would love my opponents to make now that I have a full house. Betting out after I raised the flop shows too much strength and could shut down the action. Plus checking the turn shows weakness and could encourage one of my opponents to bet it for me.

if someone has the flush and you bet you don’t think they’ll raise? seems like you earn more betting out to me.

When the third heart comes, I do not ecessarily give either of my opponents credit for a made flush. They showed strength before the flop indicative of a big pair or maybe a big ace. When my first opponent checks the turn, I check to give the guy behind me the chance to bet. Then, if the first opponent was check-raising with a flush, I make even more money. And if it’s checked around and a fourth heart comes on the river, I’m probably making more money. I was surprised that the turn got checked around, but I stand by statement that betting out on this turn risks shutting down the action, and that’s the last thing I want here.

With only one opponent behind you, there’s no reason to call the river looking for an overcall. The bettor is almost certainly calling your raise, so if you go for the overcall, pretty much the BEST thing that can happen is you make the same amount you would have if you’d raised. It’s essentially a freeroll to raise. Now if there are two or more people behind you, things get a little more dicey (and by the way, you pretty much ONLY get two or more people behind on the river in low limit hold ’em).

As for the turn, you have to bet there. Why? Well, for a million reasons, but mostly because these people call. And if the first guy was check-raising with a flush, jeeeez, let him do it. And you’re NOT getting more action if the fourth heart hits. Only the person with the ace of hearts will like that card, and that person is absolutely calling a bet on the turn anyway. So get the bet. If you think your opponents have a big pair, take their money. And why were you surprised the turn checked around? The guy cold-called two on the flop. Now he’s suddenly going to get aggressive? If he bets, it probably means he has the flush. But you could’ve got him to raise with a flush. The final point: how often are you raising the flop and checking the turn? The answer should be never. So when you do check, alarm bells should be going off in your opponents’ heads.

In Limit Hold ‘Em, with a pot that size, there is NEVER a good reason to slowplay. In this particular hand, you would’ve made the same amount. But if your opponents had played the way you thought they would play with their big pairs, you would’ve missed a few bets.

The tactic is not particularly advanced. The skill and judgement to determine when it is more profitable than raising is advanced. Only four things you can do in poker, check, bet, raise, and fold. In limit poker, these are even discrete actions. The measure of your skill is how well you map the millions of poker situations to those four actions.


Thanks for the really deep post. But you can also call.

I was just paraphrasing you Matt, “As for the turn, you have to bet there. Why? Well, for a million reasons…” Trying to capture the geist.

The gospel of poker is Make Right Decisions, not Use Nifty Tactics. Just wanted to remind her of that. Probably came off a little pithy.

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