Chapter 27: River Calls in Online Poker
Another important use for pot odds is when you are on the river and are facing a bet. Your decision against this bet is to either to call or fold. You can use pot odds to help you determine how often your hand needs to be good to make a call.
It’s much the same way as when we are facing an all-in and are figuring out if we win enough to make the call given the money in the pot. It’s a little more difficult on a river call since we are trying to figure out how many of his hands we beat and how often he has those hands compared to how many of his hands beat us and how often he has those hands.
Ok, that was a little confusing. So how exactly do we do this? Well, it all starts with hand ranges. Throughout the hand, we’re putting our opponent on a hand range. Each decision he makes in the hand helps us narrow down his hands.
In any hand, when we get to the river and our opponent bets, it’s a lot to consider and will most likely narrow his hand range down for us. We take this into account and now we have to figure out if we beat the hands he bets enough.
Often figuring out the math on this decision isn’t possible. I use mostly intuition in these spots. If I beat some of his hands and lose to some of his hands, there’s always enough money in the pot to justify a call. If I beat a few of his hands, and lose to most of his hands, I’ll know I’ll have to be getting a good price to call the river.
Let’s try an example to smooth out this concept.
I’m playing $1/$2 on Cake Poker. I raise AcTc on UTG+1 to $7.
The flop is TdJd3h. I’ve flopped middle pair with the best kicker, an OK hand in this spot. However the board has many draws. The BB checks and I bet $12. The BB quickly calls.
The turn is the Jc. The BB checks. I check behind for pot control reasons as I’m unlikely to get called by a worse hand if I bet and the second jack can mean I’m drawing dead to trips.
The river is the 5c. The BB bets $35 into the pot of $39.
I have to call $35 to win $74. Thus, I need to be winning 32% of the time to call.
I don’t know too much about BB, but I’m assuming he’s bad by how many hands he’s played preflop since I sat down at the table. I find these kind of players play their flush and straight draws passively most of the time. It’s also possible he has trip jacks since I would expect the same kind of player to play top pair good kicker passively.
I don’t think he has a set or two pair because he would have put in a check-raise on the flop. I’m essentially putting him on either trip jacks or a busted draw to make this river bet. His hand range is most likely AJ, KJ, QJ, J9, J8, Q9, KQ, 98 or one of the many flush draws possible.
Given that I feel at least half his hands are missed draws and I only need be good 32% of the time, we have a very easy call. This one is pretty clear-cut since there are so many busted draws and only a few hands that beat me.
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