How To Not Miss Your Value On The River? 16 Jun

In poker, most of the money is won with strong value hands, and the rest comes down to hiding our strategy by shuffling and minimizing losses. If you were wondering how to get the most value possible on the river, this article is for you!
Our entire river strategy depends on how we want to play our value hands. Understanding the reasons that influence our decisions with value hands will help us maximize our EV with the most important hands.

Folding frequency

How often the opponent folds (this is closely related to the amount of "air" hands he has) does NOT affect our sizing. Theoretically, the opponent will always find a proportional defense against each sizing.
BTN vs. BB

  • Flop - Qs7s6d, Pot= 5.5bb

BTN bet 1.8bb, BB call

  • Turn - Js, Pot= 9.1bb

BTN check, BB check

  • River - 2d, Pot=9.1bb

BB bet 27.5bb, BTN=?
Here we see that even against 3x pot sizing, in theory, we have calling hands:

In situations where we only have NUTS or air against bluff catcher, EV of different sizing with NUTS is pot+MDF*sizing (Minimal defense frequency)

  • 50% sizing - 1.33EV
  • 100% sizing - 1.5EV
  • 200% sizing - 1.67EV
  • 400% sizing - 1.8EV

Although this concept seems to work only in theory, it works in practice.

From Hand2Note's database, regular mid-stakes players rule against various river sizings.

In this picture, we can see that players are overfolding. But they still find calls even against the biggest sizings.
In general, it is better to sacrifice the number of calls we get with smaller sizes for the number of calls we will contact with larger sizing; in translation, larger sizing will bring us more EV.

  • 300% sizing - 1.51EV
  • 150% sizing - 1.42EV
  • 100% sizing - 1.32EV
  • 75% sizing - 1.29EV
  • 50% sizing - 1.21EV
  • 30% sizing - 1.15EV

The EV in this example is lower than in the previous theoretical model because the opponents overfold, but still, higher sizing brings more EV.

Equity Distribution

By betting, we narrow the opponent's range according to his stronger hands.
With our non-nuts hands, we have to be sure that we will win most of the times when we are called, so our sizing is key to isolating his losing hands from our hands.
If the opponent has a lot of hands that beat our value, we will often face a raise, especially against smaller sizings.
The smaller the sizing we use, the more raises we will face.
In theory, smaller sizing is not to get more calls but to encourage the opponent to raise us more often.