Deciding whether to value bet on the river or not is a pretty common situation in poker, especially if you play more than one table. As profitable as it might be it can sometimes cost you a lot, when you run into a player that was trapping you the whole hand and used your river bet for a huge check-raise.
First you have to take in consideration all of the action that took place throughout the hand and decide whether your hand is strong enough for a river bet and a showdown if your opponent calls. There is no simple answer for this and a lot of factors will influence your final decision. Keep in mind that the purpose of your value bet is to make your opponent call with a weaker hand.
Before making a good decision whether to value bet or not, here are some factors you should consider:
How to decide to value bet on the river?
Your opponent and his style will be the most important thing to take in consideration when deciding to value bet on the river. Some will call with any pair, and other will fold unless they have a monster or the nuts – this is why you have to pay attention and remember all the moves your opponent did in a similar situation.
The ideal type of opponent for a river value bet is a loose-passive player. They play a wide range of starting hands, and often go all the way if they hit anything. These are the players that will bring you your biggest winnings so always bet strong against them.
Anything from top pair with a strong kicker and higher will bring you a lot of money because loose-passive players will call even with a middle or bottom pair. On top of that, their passive playing style makes it less likely for you to get check-raised.
This doesn’t mean that you should never value bet against a tight-aggressive player, but you have to pick your spot more carefully. TAG players are in most cases good players, and a strong river bet (after you bet the flop and the river) will make them think that you either have a monster or you’re bluffing, which will often compel them to make hero calls with middle pairs or top pairs and small kickers. They will either fold, or call you with a weaker hand and give you a lot of chips. Be careful of a check-raise later on from these players.
The way you play dictates the way your opponents will play against you, so you should always try to use that to your advantage. In some cases, you’ll get great hands one after another, and if you take several pots without showing them, your opponents will think you’re a loose player and start calling your strong bets.
Use this to extract as much chips as possible on the river. Bet hard and they will more often think you’re bluffing then put you on a strong hand.
Remember that the river is where you get big pots, so avoid getting used to see cheap showdowns and use the information you have on your opponents to always put pressure on them. If you learn how to choose good spots, then river bets will make you rich.