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Relevance and Irrelevance of the river card

Hello, human! You have stumbled on another of our awesome blogs on strategising in poker. We have been teaching you poker since forever, but educating one’s self in poker is a never ending process. And so we shall continue educating you on poker, till you become a shark from a fish. That is, you become a poker expert. So, keep reading, and keep playing, until your winning ratio goes extremely high.

If you have read our previous blogs, you should know that we have spoken about the rounds of betting. However, we shall, at the expense of repeating, tell you that there are four rounds of betting in poker. The pre-flop, post-flop, post-turn, and the final round of betting, after the river card (i.e. each community card) is turned face up.

Now, we have also spoken about how to bet on each round of poker. But there is one card, the importance of which has been debated throughout the history of poker. That is the river card. There are five community cards, i.e. cards common to all players. The flop consists of three cards, and is opened as soon as the first round of betting gets over, and the top card is burnt. The turn card is opened after burning another card. The last card is the river card. The burn card is a card that goes face down. We shall discuss the reason for burn cards later.


So, if you’re not playing poker for the first time, you’re very much aware of these rules. Let’s go further. Let’s discuss a few scenarios or game plays:


Scenario 1: You have played the pre-flop, you have good hole (starting) cards, but the flop opens up cards which are not suitable to you and you fold.

Scenario 2: You have played the pre-flop, you have good hole cards, and the flop opens with suitable cards. You have a good hand already.

Scenario 3: You have played the pre-flop, post-flop, but the turn shows that the draw that you were waiting for is a long shot, and you fold.

All these scenarios show how irrelevant the river card is. In these three scenarios, you don’t even get to see the river card before you fold. So, in each of these three scenarios, the river card is an irrelevant card for you. Of course, the other players are banking on the river card to complete their hands, and win them the pot. However, you are out of the game, and you don’t even give two hoots about the last community card.

There’s one more reason that the river card may turn out to be an irrelevant card. That’s when the turn card completes a player’s hand. As soon as the turn card is flipped, the board already has six cards for each player. That implied that there is a high probability that someone waiting for a straight, a flush, a full house, a four of a kind, or a straight flush, already has that hand on the board. The river card becomes irrelevant to the extent that anyone betting further will not affect your hand.

However, there’s a twist. Now, if you have a straight, but there is a flush draw, then the river card becomes highly relevant. Additionally, the river card will decide how much you win. The betting on the river card will decide whether you take the pot that was there after the turn card. Or you can raise the pot by some clever betting, by making the other player(s) believe that they have better cards, and then you show them the nuts (the best hand on the board)!

Now we shall look at a couple of other scenarios.

Scenario 4: You have played the pre-flop and post-flop. The betting on the turn card doesn’t show that any other player has a draw. And you feel that you have a chance at hitting a real good river card, that can complete your draw. But the river card is not a good card, and you don’t have a good enough hand.

Scenario 5: You have played the pre-flop and post-flop. The betting on the turn card doesn’t show that any other player has a draw. And you feel that you have a chance at hitting a real good river card, that can complete your draw. And the river card completes your draw.

That’s where the relevance of the river card is truly revealed. In the fourth scenario, you have a chance to bluff and still win the pot. You can make the other players believe that you were not waiting for a draw, and you already have a good hand.


However, the relevance of the river card is highlighted the most in the last scenario. Your draw has turned into a straight, or a flush. Now the game begins, for you. This round of betting will decide how well you can play. If you bet too much, the others may fold. If you bet too little, you will not win much more than what the pot already holds. If you bet a decent amount, even then the players might gauge that you have a good hand, and you’re trying to rake in a little more. And they may fold. So, you have to make the best bet.

The relevance of the river card is also highlighted on the fact that there are other players who may already have a hand. Or, they may have a draw that hit nuts for them. That’s when it becomes trickier. The other person’s betting vis-a-vis your betting will decide who wins. You may then have to bluff. But their betting will decide your betting, and how much you win. Or whether you win anything or not!


So, poker on, and keep your head in the game. And of course, play the post-river betting with utmost care, and make the most of your hand! Keep pokering, keep winning.

Author

Sakshi Misra

A social media strategist and an avid poker enthusiast, she loves taking risks and so is naturally aggressive on the poker table.



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