An art that is difficult to master, the value bet in poker is perhaps the most important skill to develop in order to become a long-term winner. It combines the complexity of hand reading, understanding of opponent and maximising value.
One of the most prevalent errors an inexperienced or unconfident player will make is check back hands on the river that warrant betting for value. They will often check back hands for reasons listed below.
Fear of Being Check-Raised
The river check raise is such an uncommon play and rarely ever done on a bluff that it is not to be feared, to the extent most players afraid. It takes incredible patience for an opponent to make their hand on the river and still check raise for value. Whilst it’s true, a strong player certainly has the discipline and skill to employ this, the typical online player will often just bet their nut hand on the river (even if their opponent has bet all the way through), purely because they are worried you will check back.
Many players who miss out on value are doing so because they lack conviction in their own ability to know their hand is best and assign a range to their opponent. This is because they don’t have the confidence in their own game or lack experience. Perhaps they have suffered too many bad beats or read some hands poorly and it has affected them. Perhaps they are on tilt. Whatever the reason, they lack the conviction to put in the value bet they rightly should.
Wanting a Cheap Showdown
Some players just want to show their hand down. They don’t recognise that they are missing out on lots of value in the long run and are happy to check back on the river and show the winning hand. This is extremely detrimental to their long-term ROI and profitability as they are costing themselves money. I contend that many of these types of players even know they are checking back the better hand but do so anyway. Don’t be one of these players.
How Much to Bet?
This is the key question you should be asking every time you are considering a value bet on the river. One needs to think what is the most amount of money or chips I can obtain from my opponent. This is a complex question as it involves you assuming the perfect and maximum amount your opponent will call, given their likely hand range. A pot sized bet gives poor pot odds; thus, a strong, experienced player may be less inclined to call with a weak hand. On the contrary, a weak and inexperienced may be happy to call a huge over bet. Correctly judging the amount within a few seconds may seem impossible, but it is it not. It is intuitive and developed off the back of many hands of playing.
The importance of appropriate value betting can’t be stressed enough. This article has discussed the reasons why people miss out on value and to avoid it. In future articles, we will be exploring the different types of value bet and how they can used based on opponent and relative hand strength.