What is a river in poker and how to act?

The river is the final betting round in poker. During the river, the fifth (and the final) community card is dealt. After betting rounds end, the showdown occurs, all remaining players reveal their cards, and the winner is decided. 

At the time the river occurs, the pot has already grown rather huge, which means any mistake turns out to be costly. The river is often seen as the last chance to “remove” an opponent from the game before the showdown simply by bluffing and claiming his pot. 

During the river, all players become aware of their exact hand, and the last bets are made.

On the river, the following goals are pursued: 

Increasing the pot – a player who feels he has the strongest hand and no opponent is able to beat it wants to increase the pot as much as possible.

Value betting – a raise calculated in such a way the opponent calls it.

Bet-raise – a player makes a small bet, waiting for the opponent to raise it. Then the re-raise is made, significantly increasing the size of the pot.

Winning without the showdown – if the player lacks a strong hand, it might be possible to win the pot by making a huge raise no opponent will be willing to call. 

Minimizing the losses – if you’re not sure your bluff is going to work out and your hand isn’t the best to add money to the pot, you better fold. Check-fold or bet-fold will make sure your losses are not that impactful.

Showdown with minimal expenses – a player tries to spend as few chips on showdown as possible, meaning he’s not sure he has a better hand than that of the opponent.


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