Two Pair Against a Possible Straight on the River: Bet or Check?
DECISION POINT: In a $1/$2 live no-limit hold'em cash game, you are dealt and you raise 4x the big blind from UTG. The player in the hijack seat calls and everyone else folds. You bet the flop and your opponent calls, then after the turn you bet again and once more the hijack calls. The river is the and the action is on you...
PRO ANSWER: When considering a river bet, we should analyze its profitability as both a value bet and as a potential bluff.
In this hand, it's pretty hard for us to get value from worse hands than ours. Most two-pair combos that we beat, such as A-T, Q-T, or K-T will all fold to our river bet very frequently. That means that when our opponent calls, they will usually have a better hand than ours.
There's also no real reason to bluff, since few better hands will fold. We might occasionally get sets to fold, but most players will find a call on the river for only a half-pot bet.
This makes checking the best play against a default opponent. If the player moves all in, we should typically fold against most opponents. Fewer opponents are capable of turning something like Q-T into a bluff on the river, so when they bet it's usually a value-heavy range.
If we are up against an opponent who will always call with all two-pair combos, then we can justify betting the river.
Otherwise, checking is the best play.
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