888poker: Ask Yourself These Questions Before Calling A River Bet!

Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani

Facing big river bets can be a daunting experience, especially if you are new to poker. Luckily 888poker ambassador Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani has shared some top tips about what questions to ask yourself when you find yourself in these situations.

So be sure to watch the video and read the article to know what to do when facing important river spots.

Does My Opponent Value-Bet a Worse Hand?

This should always be your first question when facing a bet on the river. Would your opponent only bet the nuts, or do they do this with all their other value hands?

Basically, if our opponent could be value betting worse hands than ours in this situation, then you have a crystal clear call, which will be profitable in the long run, even if you're not right this time.

Remember that your opponents may not usually play or think as you do, so you can't just think about how you would play in that situation. If you do, then that is a big mistake. Consider how your opponent has been playing and use your personal reads to make better decisions in that scenario.

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Is This River Spot Easy for My Opponent to Over-Bluff?

It is difficult to get into your opponent's head to judge how often they will bluff. However, there are some instances that are more straighforward for both professional and recreational players to bluff a bit more than they should.

Take the situation where our opponent has to bet the flop and the turn, and the river is an ace, and they bet again. The ace is a good example of a scary card but ask yourself if they would've bet the flop and turn with a hand that hits the ace on the river. Would they have played it like they have and opened themselves up to being raised off the pot and having to fold the flop or the turn?

If you think your opponent will get more aggressive on specific runouts, you should be willing to call more often.

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Do I Block My Opponent's Value Range?

Blockers are cards that make it statistically less likely your opponent has a specific hand. Blockers are very relevant in poker and even more so for river decisions because that's where we have the most information and where the ranges are most defined.

If your hand has cards that interact with the hand your opponent would bet for value, you should be more inclined to call. If you're holding certain cards, they are less likely to be at the top of their range.

If your hand interacts with the cards your opponent would have to bluff with, you should fold more as it is less likely they are bluffing.

Do I Have a Specific Read on this Opponent?

Understanding poker concepts and theories is essential, but poker is still a game of logic and people. Sometimes you're facing an opponent that you have a lot of information on, and maybe you know that specific player likes to bluff when the flush gets there, for example.

Maybe you've seen them do it a few times and have tagged them with a note about it. Even if there is some evidence that they might not be bluffing here, it's okay to go with your reads on occasion.

Poker is a complex game, and most of the time, we don't have enough information. Knowing what our opponents do on rivers is tough because it doesn't happen often. You should carefully evaluate all the information available and then make decisions based on that and sometimes we have to use our reads.

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Are There Any Other Aspects in Play?

Be aware of all the dynamics in play when facing a river bet. If you're up against a river bet in a deep-stacked cash game is not the same as facing a river bet in different poker situations. If you're playing a bounty tournament with a huge stack and your opponent with a big bounty is moving all in, you can be more flexible in how light you call.

On the other hand, imagine you're playing a final table and have a good stack but the chip leader puts you all in while some short stacks are at the table, you should be very conservative about calling.

It's not always just about the cards and your reads. You should be aware of all the dynamics in play.

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  • Not sure what to do when facing a large river bet? Use these tips from 888poker ambassador Alexandre "Cavalito" Mantovani to help improve your game.

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