Don’t Miss the “Thin Value Spots”

Published: 20/12/2010

During almost every Texas Hold’Em session, each Poker player will face this dilemma: Should the river be bet when in position for value? The upside is a bigger pot if the opponent calls with a weaker hand. But the downside of betting is the possibility of falling victim to a check-raise. Quite often a cheap showdown would be the better choice.

In making the decision to bet the river for value, several factors should be taken into account. Does the hand warrant a river value bet? Is the opponent playing Loose Passive, likely to call and unlikely to raise? And based upon previous bets made, how will the opponent read a bet on the river?

One opportunity to look for in such situations is the so-called “thin value spot.” It can be described as a choice between checking and betting on the river in which a value bet may not be immediately obvious, and there are several to look for in particular.

Bluffing Situations - Any player who has lots of apparent bluffing options is in a good position to make a value bet on the river. The opponent will adjust by calling down with a wider range of hands, but will be much less likely to raise, even with a moderately strong hand. The key here is to recognize the opportunity by seeing what the opponent sees: More ways to lose than to win, but mitigated by the possibility of calling the bluff.

Missed Flushes – Any time two suited cards show on the flop, all players must be thinking “flush” opportunity. When the suit fails to show on the turn and players check or call without raising to the river, it is a thin value spot in the making. That’s because when the river also fails to offer a flush card, whoever bets is in the driver’s seat. Weak opponents will fold—no harm. Most opponents will call if the pot odds are close to right. Very few will raise, even with a solid pair, for fear of losing to a set.

River Pairs – Whenever the river card gives the board a pair, it can be a thin value spot. This is especially true if it pairs the top card on the board. A bet can be interpreted in several ways—as a set made, as an over pair, or as an under pair. There may even be cases when the kicker becomes the defining card of the hand. With all these possibilities, simply checking gives opportunity away. Betting for value forces the opponent to pay the price or surrender, and in most cases the pot should grow without much chance of a raise.

Thoughtful Follow-up – A player who has bet or raised post flop, such as when making a continuation bet, and then checked on the turn may be in a good position for a thin value bet on the river. That’s because such play looks very much like a bluff gone south. It forces the opponent to over-think the possibilities of the hand and makes it almost impossible to answer with either a raise or a fold.

Scare Cards – The river is a dangerous place, and when a “scare card” falls, it can create opportunities for thin value bets. A scare card, of course, is any card on the turn or river that challenges the hand that has been betting/raising and makes it vulnerable. The player who bets on the scare card is quite often bluffing. This causes opponents to call down lighter. When holding a better “showdown value” hand, this is the thin value spot for betting.

Published on: 20/12/2010

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