Texas Holdem - Playing the River
The River Card. Showdown. Its time to see who is taking down the chips, and who is drowning in the river. River play is fairly simple. If you have the best hand either by strength of good cards early, or luck of the draw on the river, now is your final chance to get a few more chips from your opponents. Some “classy” players will check here, even though they know they have the top hand, and thus save their opponents a few dollars to put back in their wallet.. Unless its a long time friend, I would advise taking his wallet, emptying it of its contents and then stuffing the wallet down his throat. There are winners and there are losers in poker. If you are looking for “courtesy play”, then play with family. The world of poker is like Jack London's icy wastelands where only the strong survive.
The only real advice I can give on river play is to almost never fold. If you have been playing good cards up to this point in the hand, then you at least have a shot at holding the winning cards. By now the pot is large enough that it also makes good money sense to stay in. Unless you did not complete a pure draw hand, call any bets. Don't get the reputation as someone who can be bluffed off the river. If this happens, you'll just face more and more bluff bets on the river. On the other hand, if you get the reputation as someone who can't be bluffed, then noone in their right mind will attempt it.
The only other times I consider folding is when an extremely conservative player who never bluffs has been calling towards a draw hand the entire hand, and now it looks like he has hit his card. Or when there are two or more players who starting betting and raising on the river, you can be sure that at least one of them holds the goods. You can make a case for folding here.
Pot odds dictate that you bet or call on the river, unless you are practically positive you are beat.
If you have read through this entire strategy section on Texas Holdem, from Pocket Cards to River, and you apply it to your game, you will see success in Holdem, and especially in low limit, online Holdem.
However, there is so much more strategy than can be written down in a few cyber pages on this poker site! Check out “Helmuth's Top 10” in this same section, and you will see a stark contrast between his starting hand suggestions and the ones in my original “Pocket Cards” section. Texas Holdem is such a complex game that there are literally hundreds of different methods and strategies that can be successful. My advice to any reader would be to invest a few dollars into at least one good Texas Holdem book, written by such masters as Lee Jones (Winning Low Limit Hold'em) and Andy Nelson (Poker: A Winners Guide). For a review of any poker books or authors, simply name them in our poker forums, and you can get plenty of feedback before purchasing.
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The professional men and women of poker have years of experience and winnings under their belt. Continue to study the game and your chip stack will climb ever higher.