Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Check or Bet the River?

So here was an interesting cash game hand I played within the past week or so, and I was wondering what you guys think about me betting or checking on the river. The game was $2-$4 no-limit holdem, and it was just myself and one other player sitting at a shorthanded table. I was up a little bit over the past ten minutes or so that our heads-up battle had been going on, and I had been playing a fairly aggressive style of nlh that I think is required in any heads-up situation. I looked down to see 74o, with which I completed the big blind and we saw a cheap flop of 356 rainbow. Bingo!! Gotta love those flopped straights, unless you're this guy.

I decided to bet out the full size of the pot ($8) into this coordinated board, which I had done several times during our heads-up session already, and he quickly called my bet. Then when a harmless-looking King♥ fell on the turn, I followed the pattern I had used previously when I was just c-betting with air, and I checked to my opponent to see if he would bet for me:

Which he did:

Here I opted to just call, again figuring this guy had me on a c-bet on the flop and basically on air once I checked the turn after he called my flop c-bet. If you read here you know I use this move all the time, and checking the turn when I am actually strong after having my c-bet called on the flop is a crucial piece of my overall poker strategy because it helps to balance out all those other c-bets I make where I really do have air and have to give it up with a check-fold on the turn. I can't let any opponent believe that every time I check the turn after betting the flop, I am automatically weak. But if I'm going to c-bet as actively as I like to do, then I need to check the turn sometimes when I'm actually strong after those c-bets to keep all of my opponents honest.

So I smooth called here with the flopped straight, and then the river fell a somewhat annoying Queen♥. Not that I was all that afraid of the runner runner scenario, but the river did bring a third heart and did make the flush possible in a spot where otherwise I had flopped the stone joint and had had the nuts all the way through the hand up to that point. Naturally this is the risk I take when I do opt to check-call the turn instead of raising this mofo out of the pot when I have the chance without seeing the river card, so I can't complain too much when it does happen.

So my question for you is: Do you bet out here? Big or small? Or do you check, and hope he checks behind? Or do you check, with the intent of check-raising? What's the best line here to maximize your profit and minimize your losses? Is he even likely to bet the river if you do check?

Let me know your thoughts and I'll be back tomorrow with what I did.

And don't forget the Mookie tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt. Sure most of the blonkaments are suffering from the summer doldrums as usual these days, but the Mook is still the shizz every Wednesday night. So be there or be squizzare and I will see you then.

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Blogger Esquire80 said...

Well I guess the question you have to ask before you do anything is whether or not you will call re-rasise from him or a large bet from him. Presumably, the answer is yes in this case so it doesn't matter much what you do.

I would just value bet 40 or 50. A lot of holdings would call that. If he's super trickey he can run a huge bluff on you and re-raise big which would put you to a big test which is the only drawback to betting out.

I think you lose value if you check to him and let him get a free showdown. However, I think you would get more information that way. If you check to him what do you do when he does the following: 1. small suck bet giving you better than 3-1 on a call? (gotta call that)
2. Pot bet (same)
3. Massive over bet for value or bluff? (tough call) So not betting out on river loses value bet and lets opponent take contol of the hand making a harder decision for you.

12:01 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

Was he aggressively betting the river when you showed weakness like he did on the turn? I could see him having like K-5 here. I think it would depend on my opponent. I usually check to aggressive bettors and value bet pretty much everyone else, sometimes even OBFV.

So most of the time I'd bet the pot here and if he raised me I would just call rather than push because of that stupid third heart.

2:50 AM  
Blogger Pseudo_Doctor said...

Being heads up I'm more inclined to bet the river but without much information on the player its not that easy of a decision. I mean chances are he's going to call a reasonable bet or fold out. If the guy does raise big representing the flush then you'll have to go based on ur read and instincts.

By not betting the river and either c/c or c/raising I believe are situations in which you are losing value. By betting you are defining not only your hand but getting information based off how he reacts.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

I favour making a weak lead. You get called by many worse hands and induce bluffs -- which you happily snap off, yum! -- a fair amount of the time.

I think that line maximizes your EV.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Fabio Ruini said...

A check will certainly induce a bet from your opponent (you made a continuation bet on the flop, then you checked both the turn and the river, so you look really weak). At that point you can just call if you're really worried by a possible flush, or raise (hoping to don't be re-raised all-in) if the size of his bets looks too big.

I'm pretty sure that if you bet you will be raised because your bet on the river doesn't make any sense. So I'd prefer the check/call or check/raise scenario.

4:50 PM  
Blogger steeser said...

Blogger Fabio Ruini said...

I'm pretty sure that if you bet you will be raised because your bet on the river doesn't make any sense. So I'd prefer the check/call or check/raise scenario.

4:50 PM

I'm not sure I agree with much of this statement. First, if you are sure that if you bet you will be raised, I think that's a good result since he probably doesn't show up with a flush very much here.

And by betting the river, a flush is a very possible holding, say you bet the flop with a weak pair or air, and then check/call the turn once you pick up the flush draw (since you didn't want to get blown off the hand by betting/being raised).

I like betting the river, as I think that's the route that you get the most value, while not getting stacked if you are somehow beaten by the flush. I bet about 40-45, with the intention of calling most raises. A check-raise in this spot isn't likely to get called by anything but the highest end of his range, whereas by betting you may get value from your opponent out of a bluff-raise.

6:59 PM  

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