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How Would You Play This River?

25/07/2019 by Alexander Fitzgerald

Let’s put you in a situation:

You have AJ. You’re in a $530 tournament at your local Midwest casino. You’re in the big blind. You have 70 big blinds effective.

A young grinder raises from UTG+3 to 2.5X the big blind. It’s folded around to you.

He’s in his mid-20s. He’s a nice enough guy. He seems to do well in $1/$3. He’s been playing cards more lately, but he hasn’t moved up to $2/$5.

You call out of the big blind.

The board comes J62. You check to let him fire. He bets half-pot. You call. You want to give him another chance to fire the turn.

The turn is 4. You check. He pauses for a second, and then he bets 1/3rd pot.

You call. The river is K.

What should you do?

In my opinion, you should lead the river for 80% of the pot.


Think of his turn bet. Why is he betting so small? If he had a flush draw and was trying to make you fold, wouldn’t he bet more? Don’t forget, you’re also blocking nut flush draws.

If he had a set or an overpair wouldn’t he bet bigger to get value from flush draws and jacks?

What the guy is doing is called “buying the showdown.”

He doesn’t have a terrific hand. He can still get value from flush draws and 6-X, but not much else.

He is betting so small because he thinks you’ll still call with flush draws and 6-X if he bets small. He’s also gambling that you won’t know what he’s doing, so you’ll check most rivers.

He is running an exploitative line, but to be fair to him…it usually works in the Midwest. People on that turn generally call with their entire flop calling range and check the river to him. He avoids the messy river spot that would have come up if he checked the turn and you bet the river. He gets value from all the sixes and flush draws.

The king is not too scary of a card. He likely would have bet more on the turn with K-J. You still beat Q-J, J-10, J-9s, J-8s, TT, 99, 88, and 7-7. Your line looks exactly like a missed flush draw.

This goes back to the old adage, “find out what your opponent wants and disappoint him.”

I love leading rivers in this spot. You can collect some huge bets if you add this move to your arsenal.