Imagine the scene: you’re on the river, and your online poker opponent has checked. You have some cards, and those aren’t the strongest hand, but there’s a high possibility it’s going to win. What must you do? Should you bet or not? What if you bet and your opponent check-raises?
It happens to numerous players: they get to the river with a fairly strong or strong hand, they’d like to get to the showdown, so they don’t bet, being content with a check-check-showdown situation. It’s an error more often than not. More exactly: it’s always an error, when the poker online opponent shows a weaker hand in the end that he might have called a bet with. In these scenarios, we could have earned more chips, much more, as the biggest pots are clearly on the river typically. So it’s the street we can earn the most on. The amount we can get with a nice value-bet on the river, assuming an average tournament hand with bets on all streets, equals 4 to 5 successful blind steals. It’s easier to just get all those chips with one decision, in place of risking it over many moves.
So the answer for the first question is that we should always bet in position if it’s likely that we have the best hand. We don’t need to be totally sure about it, if it’s likely; it’s going to be sufficient.
The second part of the query doesn’t have a more complex answer. Never miss a river value bet just to get to a showdown! The right bet sizing depends on multiple factors, but as a general rule of thumb you can rarely go wrong with betting between 30-50% of the pot.
It’s easy to just disregard this error as most of the time we are happy with winning showdowns. We often don’t even see how big of a mistake we made as we usually associate errors with lost hands and chips. This is wrong thinking; winning the pot doesn’t make your play the correct one – you can still make errors without being the loser. Losing chips and missing out on winnable ones.
Never check the river hastily without thinking, always think betting on the river for value. Correctly applied river value bets are very crucial; they are priceless elements of a prepared player’s arsenal. Use it deliberately, and as often as possible!