Betting into a Draw Hand on the River
If you have a high pair or two pair against a flush or straight draw it is correct to bet every street through 6th to make them pay to draw. However, keep in mind they are drawing to the best hand here, and since the 7th card is dealt face down, you have no idea of knowing if they made that best hand or not. The correct play is to check unless your two pair have turned into a full house. If you check and they bet, it's also correct to call since you can beat a bluff, unless the player never ever bluffs in which case you can feel good about folding.
On the river you're not betting based on the chance that you have the best hand, you're actually betting based on the chance that you have the best hand if you are called or raised. Am I making sense here? Think about it: If you're betting Aces up and your opponent had a flush draw, he'll fold if he didnt make it on the river...you gain nothing by betting the river. He'll call or raise your bet if he did make the flush, so you've lost at least one bet by betting and most likely two if you call his raise.
This also applies if you're lead betting with a hand like KK's up or AA's up, and you've got 3+ chasers. You've still got a great shot at having the best hand, especially if you're not seeing flush or straight draws on other players porches. However, what is the likelihood that you have the best hand if you're called or raised? Most player's won't call or raise your bet on the river unless they've made a pretty nice hand. You have the random maniac who will bet his 7755 on the river, but most people with two smaller pair would rather just check it down. If you get callers, and especially if you get raisers, you're probably beat by trips or better. Much better to check/call than to bet/call a raise.
There are times, obviously when you can bet big pairs for value on the river. If you're up against a weak/passive opponent or two who you know by your notes to call with any pair to the river and will only raise with trips or better on the river, then you can show positive expectation by winning a bet or two every time they call with a weak hand and by only losing one bet the rare times they raise on the river and you can safely fold or possibly call if you suspect they may have just hit two big pair like KK's up when you have AA's up.
By and large however, when up against a couple of a few drawers, and especially if you're staring a draw hand in the face, a check/call on the river is the best play, hands down.
This post was up for no more than 10 minutes when Roger (rpmorris1) gave me a link to an article written by Ashley Adams, a gent much more learned than myself in the art of 7 Card Stud, suggesting that you can have a positive expectation betting into draw hands held by the typical weak players we face in low limits.
He suggests that alot of players will make a small hand that they will call your river bet with, even if they don't make their flush draw. The bets you'll gain with your AA's up, compared to the few times you'll lose 1 BB or 2 BB to a call or raise from an actual flush, will actually add to your bottom line.
Time to adjust my strategy and try something new!