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Starting Hands Revealed
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Leak #6 - Not River Value Betting enough
Leak #6 "not river value betting enough" is symbolized by some kids who just got a fish out of the river. What this means is clear, fishing at the river can be profitable.
Anytime you feel , remember this image. These young kids were not afraid to get their feet wet at the river in order to make a catch, were they?
It does not mean that your opponent must be a fish, for any opponent there is a fair price to extract from his hand. Of course fish will pay you handsomely at the river by not correctly valuing their hands.
Leak #6 corresponds to our fear to get raised by a stronger hand. Here is an example of a game played at Full Tilt Poker, where leak #6 came into action. Hero has Q♠Q♣ in a full ring NL50 Texas Hold'em game seating at UTG+1. He makes a standard preflop raise of 3x, and gets called by MP2 and UTG. The flop cards are 3♥3♣T♣, UTG checks, hero bets 5 bb into the 10.5 bb pot, MP2 folds and UTG calls.
So this hand is going to be played heads up against UTG, who has only shown weakness so far. He limped preflop then called a raise, and he checked then called a bet at the flop. This board is not dangerous for the hero. If the villain had a higher pair than QQ, he would normally have raised preflop. There is a club flush draw, and except if villain holds a 3 or TT, hero should be ahead. The turn is J♥, which is a blank except for a new flush draw. UTG checks, Hero bets and gets called for 12 bb in the 20.5 bb pot.
Finally the river is 8♠, a blank, UTG checks, and hero, ..., checks too. This is a missed opportunity to . Villain shows J♣9♣ and he certainly would have paid a bet at the river given his calling station attitude so far.
Value betting is the act of extracting value from your hand when you have the best hand. By not doing it, you leave chips on the table and this is why it is called a leak. Poker is not a picnic in the park, and anytime you make a mistake against your opponents, you make a hole in your bankroll. It may seem that you made money in the hand as you won it, but in reality you lost money.
The main reason why intermediate players failed to make appropriate river value bets is that, either they are not sure to have the best hang, or they are afraid of a big raise.
Not knowing if you have the best hand is a very natural feeling, and you will never know for sure until you see the villain's hand. Only with study and experience will you be able to ascertain with good precision if you have the best hand or not. You can gather all the evidence in you mind to determine if you have the best hand.
In the previous example, the opponent shows weakness four times out of four times, always limp-calling or check-calling. The board was not very drawy and no "scary card appeared". The last part of the puzzle would be to have more information about your opponent style. Ideally he is loose passive, loose increasing the chance that he has been calling with a weaker hand, passive decreasing the chance that he will raise at the river. If he is very tricky, there is a bigger chance that he has trapped you for a check-raise.
The other reason for not value betting at the river is that you are afraid of a trap. If you have played online poker on the Internet, you have vivid memories of times when you confidently bet at the river, just to get raised allin. Was it a bluff or not? If you tried to call a few times in these situations, you often lost the hand and sometimes unveiled a bluff.
The trauma associated with past situations where you lost big pots when calling or folding to a river raise are like scars on your poker player skin. The important concept here is the fact that these events are much more rare than the numerous river value betting oportunities that you miss. They make a bigger mark in your memory, but when you make a few extra chips profit from value betting at the river, this just leaves a passing memory.