River bluffing is one of the most powerful tools a pro poker player uses to maximize the game. Every competent player plays with doing so. Depending on their playing style, some players could do it more frequently than others.
Every poker hand offers a variety of bluffing options. Yet, finding strong river bluffs can be difficult for many players because the river is typically the trickiest.
The pot is the largest at this stage because it is the final betting street. Thus if you want your bluffs to succeed, you will also have to wager more.
With all this in mind, you must avoid letting these worries and fears prevent you from profiting from advantageous bluffing situations.
River Bluffing and Why It Matters
River bluffing is a high-risk, high-reward strategy that requires a good understanding of your opponent’s tendencies and the ability to read their behavior. It’s important to note that successful river bluffing requires a strong table image, which means you must have a reputation for making strong hands and winning pots. This makes it more likely that your opponents will believe you have a strong hand and be more likely to fold to your bluff.
However, river bluffing is not a strategy that should be used too often or recklessly, as it can quickly become predictable and lead to losses. It is the best poker strategy used when you have a good read on your opponent. Additionally, you believe your opponent will likely fold to a big bet on the river.
Eliminate the Mental Barrier
The fact that river bluffs are the final street is probably the main cause of the difficulties many players experience with them. If you get caught with your hand, there are no future cards to save you and no extra streets to hope for a good escape.
Pulling the trigger on the river is significantly more complex than on any other street due to this and the general anxiety of failure.
But, to succeed like all professional poker players, one must banish these worries and uncertainties.
What To Consider
Be Mindful of Blockers
The cards you have can impact your opponent’s real folding frequency. When you have strong blockers, your opponent may fold a few percentage points (or more) more frequently, but when you have weak blockers, your opponent may call a little more regularly.
Think About the River Card and the Board Texture
The make-up of the flop, turn, and—most significantly—the river card itself is another critical aspect in bluffing the river. The pre-flop raiser’s perceived range includes big broadway type hands and big pairs. Meanwhile, the pre-flop caller’s perceived range is more inclined to have speculative hands like suited connectors, aces, and mid-sized and small pairs.
So, it is frequently not a good idea to run a massive bluff on a board like this: 4c-7c-9h-6s-2c if you are the pre-flop raiser.
If you are the pre-flop caller, you generally want to avoid running a large bluff on a board that reads Ah-Ks-8c-8d-Qh.
Consider Your Fold Equity
The percentage of times the opponent folds to your wager is known as fold equity. Your hand equity (i.e., the likelihood that you will win the hand) and fold equity will be added to evaluate the profitability of every wager you place.
For instance, your hand equity is around 17% if you shove the turn with a nut flush draw (because you have 9 outs to the nuts).
The fact that you can also win the pot by getting your opponent to fold doesn’t imply you should only expect to win it 17% of the time.
You have an additional 50% in fold equity if you believe the opponent will fold around half the time.
Opponent Fails to C-Bet the Turn
One of the spots to watch out for is this one because it may be quite profitable no matter how strong your hands are.
You might want to try to win the pot on the river if your opponent doesn’t double barrel.
You call an open-raise out-of-position pre-flop. You check on the flop while the opponent c-bets. You check on the turn, opponent checks. You bet, and the opponent folds.
In this case, your river bet is called a probe bet. You would make a probe bet when your opponent didn’t take advantage of the chance to c-bet on the preceding street. It can, therefore, only be completed on the turn or river. With various hands, betting in this spot can be completely rewarding.
When Triple Barrel Is An Option
Your actions when bluffing the river must tell a plausible and coherent story.
If you decide to bluff, don’t do it because you believe your opponent is weak or will fold, or something similar, in the middle of the hand. Top poker players always create a story showing their strong hand.
Generally speaking, it’s best to keep things straightforward even while bluffing. Keep in mind that the goal is to project a powerful presence. You can do this by triple barreling, as it exudes strength.
Consider triple barreling (e.g., c-betting the flop, turn, and river) if the board becomes increasingly unsettling street by street to put the most pressure on your opponent.
Just keep an eye out for draws that might complete. If not, your opponent will likely have a wide variety of busted draws or weak cards that won’t hold up under the pressure of the triple barrel.
Of course, you have to consider the possibility that your opponent is slow playing.
Bluffing the river is a tricky play that requires careful consideration of many factors. To successfully bluff your opponent in poker, you must consider their range and fold equity and board texture, among other things. Additionally, use strategies like a triple barrel to show strength to maintain your image at the table and build the opportunity to bluff when the time comes.