Poker Tips by George: Checking on the River – Hold’em vs. 7-Card Stud

By George Epstein
June 17, 2021

As you glance at your hole cards and study the board on the River, how often have you asked yourself: “Should I bet, check or raise?” Checking means “no bet;” but it also tells your opponents that your hand is not strong enough with which to raise. You may have had lots of good outs before the river, but now those outs no longer have any value.

Whether you’re playing live poker or prefer to use promo codes from sites like AllBonusCodes to get max value for your online poker deposits, at the end of the day your strategy must be solid to enable you to win your opponents’ chips. In today’s article we’ll be zeroing in on how to extract value near the end of the hand.

Focus on the River


We are playing $4/8 limit Texas Hold’em. Most of our opponents are recreational players, just as we are. We play for the enjoyment of the game, the social interaction, and the competitive challenge, and, of course, we want to win money.

Over the years, we have become fairly skilled at the game. We know which starting hands to toss into the muck, and in which to invest to see the flop, and to fold if the flop does not improve our starting hands. We know how to bluff and semi-bluff. We are learning how to best read our opponents and to interpret their tells. We are adept at building the pot when we catch a monster hand. But whether to raise, check or fold on the River has always been a puzzle. Let us try to sort it out: Checking on the river – yes or no?

To start off, remember this: The money (chips) you have already put in the pot no longer belongs to you. Those chips belong to the pot. You made an investment to see the next card. You did see it; proceed from there. The turn is a blank. On the river, there is a bet to you. Looking at your hole cards, you ponder: “Should I call this bet?”

Some players contemplate a bit and then decide: “I have invested enough in this hand. Now, I want to see if I can win it.” WRONG. Yes, you did invest, and you got what you paid for. Think of this as a fresh opportunity to make a good (profitable) investment. If you cannot convince yourself that it is, let it pass. Muck your cards and watch the rest of the hand to see what you can learn from how your opponents act.

On the other hand…

Years ago, when I was a neophyte at the game, my poker mentor gave me some advice: “If you have gone all the way to the river and the bettor does not have you beat on the table, it is usually worth a call.” But that was when I was playing 7-card stud. Hold’em now is my game, and there is a big difference. In stud, you get to see many more of your opponents’ face-up cards. That information makes all the difference in the world! You have much better reads on their hands; and, very importantly, you see how many of your outs are no longer available from the deck. You may need much higher pot odds to make up for it.

For example, with three opponents in the hand on the river, you can see a total of 12 of their cards face-up on the board. Whereas, in hold’em you can only see the five community cards on the board. That makes a big difference in making your next decision.

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George Epstein

After a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for […]

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