Poker is about extracting value of out the hands. That’s the main reason to bet, therefore you always need to be focused and try to get the most out of any circumstance you have a decent hand to play with.

One of the most common mistake is do not get enough value with winning hands, especially on the river. Way too many times players decide to check back the river when in position just to “see what’s the opponent has” and for a cheap showdown. Wrong!

Even worse, not only wrong, but also this kind of mistake is sneaky because it’s not clear and doesn’t scream out loud that you are losing money, it just drains chips silently without any warning sign.

Think about the following situations. You are playing a tournament and think about two different sentences:

  1. I’ve 75K chips but I’m sad because i lost that spot with Aces vs Queen and might be over 100K chips by now.
  2. I’ve 75K chips but I could be over 100K if did not avoid to bet that river with my two-pairs; my opponent would have called with top pair top kicker.

Which one is the more likely you whine about?

Without any doubts, the first one. The amount “lost” is equal, but on one side bad luck did hit you making you feel you deserve more, on the other spot maybe you just didn’t even notice the mistake.

Let’s put it in another way: if you do value bet every decent river, you buy yourself support for the spots where you get coolered and there’s nothing to do about it.

On the river, just bet for value!

Every time you feel you might have the best hand and you are in position, just bet. You cannot afford to miss a value bet on the river just because getting to see the showdown is entertaining.

Also, in situations like these, as you should not bet “for info”, you are not supposed to check back “for info”. There’s almost never value in discovering your opponent’s hand, because if it was good enough, it might have paid you off on the river; if it is not good, he’s going to fold a trash hand anyway. Someone might say that discovering if he was playing with a draw might be interesting, but as long as you didn’t give him the right odds (need a recap about pot odds?), you should not be bothered about his hole cards.

Never check the river back without reasoning over it.

Yes, there are times when checking back is a wise move for pot controlling, but in the long run, betting for value, even a small size is still better than nothing, it gives you a lot of chips more within a tournament.