Value Betting The River In No-Limit Hold’em

Carl Sampson | November 22, 2011

Carl “The Dean” Sampson

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is an online poker pro, coach and poker writer with many years experience in the poker and gambling industry. Carl has three published books and has written for many leading poker magazines like the WPT and Poker Pro Europe.


Carl plays poker online at PokerStars, not only the largest online poker room, but also the best!

There are many instances where you need to value bet the river in no limit play even if you have very marginal holdings. This is especially the case if you are going up against very sophisticated opponents who have a pretty good angle on your ranges at all stages of the hand. Let us say that you only ever bet the river with very strong hands and bluffs and check the rest for pot control. This strategy is incredibly unbalanced because if you bet the river and make it $75 into a $100 pot for example then your astute opponent can call you with basically anything that beats a bluff.

So if they have say 7-7 on a A-K-Q-4-4 board and they know that you will check hands like A-3 and K-J for example then they know that a big river bet could put your under pressure and could get you off the best hand. But they also know that if you make a $70 bet on the river and the pot is $170 then it is only $70 to them to call and their $70 investment stands to make $170 if you have no hand.

So the call is pretty easy to make here and the hand can be simplified to three possible types and these are strong hands and powerful hands, mediocre hands and weak hands with fresh air. Your hand is weak but your opponent will bet with all of his fresh air type hands on the river. This means that if your opponent only bets the river in these instances then you can call very widely.

This is why better player’s value bet the river because they know about polarised hand ranges. So if they have say A-2 then they will bet again on the river. Weaker players would not call down with worse but better players would because better players understand that stronger opponents will barrel more often and so they need to call down wider. So in this instance then if a player knows that he is likely to be called down by weaker hands because their opponent suspect a bluff too often in this situation then they may barrel again on the river with weaker hands than they would normally barrel with in situations of this nature.