Playing the River
The River card has just been placed on the board with the Flop and the Turn. This completes the community cards for this hand, so if you haven’t made your hand yet, you will not be making it this time.
Making a Bluff
Of course part of the beauty of playing Texas Hold Em is that you have not lost yet and can still win with a well timed and executed bluff. Just remember that you can’t bluff all of the time because the other players will soon figure that out. And there are some players that can never be bluffed, we call them “calling stations” or the “sheriff”. With newer players and at lower limit tables, it is almost impossible to bluff.
Where Do You Stand?
After the River is dealt, if you are still in the hand, there are three possible situations. The first is that you have the best possible hand, the “Nuts”. If this is the case your objective is to figure out how you can best maximize your profits. We will talk more about this when we get into value betting and bet sizing. The second possibility is that you are not sure if you have the best hand or not. You might have the top pair and top kicker but someone else could have two pair or a set. Judging by the betting action on previous rounds and your knowledge of the other players in the game, you should have an idea of where you stand. Betting in this situation is usually a good move because you might get someone with a better hand to lay it down and win a pot that you otherwise would not have or you might get a call from a weaker hand an improve your profit on the hand.
If you are first to act and your bet is raised, or if you are last to act and you get check raised, then you pretty much now know where you stand. Of course if you are in late position and the hand is checked to you, you may figure that the only players that will call your bet are players that have you beat and you can then just see if you win on a show down without putting any more money at risk. The third possible situation is that you were on a draw and the flop did not help you any. In this case you can not win on a show down and your only hope to win is to bet and not get called. Of course this could just add to the amount of money that you are going to lose on the hand, but that is where, your observation of the other players and the betting action, will come in handy.
The Reaction of Your Opponents
Instead of watching the card be dealt on the flop, watch the reaction of the other players that are still in the hand. In online play you have to look for subtle signs like betting delays and betting sizes. In live play you can always look at the flop card later but you can never look back at their initial reaction. After looking at the flop card, does your opponent look back at his chips? Do his pupils widen? Does he start to turn away and act disinterested? These are all signs that your opponent found a card that he wanted on the flop and you should be very careful.