Studying Your Hand Potential – The River

Ah, the river. We’re talking No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, of course. That is a fierce game, you know — fortunes can really change in the blink of an eye, so if you aren’t careful you can really get eaten alive. Is it going to be something that you want to worry about completely? Eh, not really. Like any other form of poker, you really just need to focus on the game as it is, from every angle. That’s what the super shark players do, and they’re not turned off by any part of the current hand.

We get a lot of discussions about the river and whether or not it’s really important. The river can either carry you home or drown you, and that’s something that a lot of players — new and old alike — really have a problem with.

Let’s say that you have top pair due to the flop, and the turn doesn’t affect you in the slightest. What if the river is your highest card? That’s going to be a full house, obviously. But what if it’s not — and someone can actually beat you? That’s when you need to really study your hand potential — yes, even at the river.

First and foremost, you should always be paying attention to the way the action is in the game. If you have top pair at the flop and you know it, have you actually raised? Have you gotten shoved back? If you are raising on every turn and players are going along with it, there are a few expectations we can draw from these actions. For starters, we can assume that they have at least one pair. If they don’t have anything, they’re going to fold — why throw good money into the pot in hopes that you’re bluffing? So you have to look at your table and realize that you’re probably going to be dealing with serious players more than anything. Think about what their hand could potentially be.

If you get that full house you want, be cautious still — someone could still have a straight flush, or even four of a kind. Better still, someone might still have a higher full house than you do — that’s something that people can’t always accept. Either way, you want to always make sure that you’re not just leaping into something and losing all of your stack when that could be avoided. That’s such a costly mistake, you know?

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