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Big River Bets - What do They Mean?

If you play a lot of poker then you have probably been in the position where your opponent throws out a huge and unexpected bet on the river. This is very common for several different reasons and it can often be tough to understand why that bet is being made. There are two very common reasons why and unfortunately they are complete opposites. If you are going to have any shot of figuring out why this bet is being made you must be willing to take in as much information about the hand as possible. That means paying very close attention to each and every hand along with each and every one of your opponents.

Bluffing of Begging?

In poker, a big bet on the river usually means one of two things. Either your opponent is begging you to call because he or she has a huge hand and wants to make as much money as possible, or they are completely bluffing. If you are not paying attention to what is going on then there is a good chance you will not be able to figure out which one they are trying to pull off. It might not matter if you have a great hand yourself but what if you have a marginal hand that could easily beat a bluff? Maybe you even have a very good hand but just nothing that can beat the nuts. That is when it is good to know what your opponent is sitting on and the reason for their bet.


If your opponent is bluffing then you should be able to figure it out most of the time. The best way to do so is to look back on the hand and think about what your opponent has been doing. Then put yourself in their shoes and think about what might be in his or her hand. In order to do that however, you must first understand your opponent. Hopefully you have been watching all of your opponents and studying them throughout the course of the game. That way when something like this happens, you can put them on a hand.

A good example would be if there is a flush draw on the flop and you are betting all the way through. If your opponent keeps calling you and then all of a sudden on the river they are all in then you have to stop and think. If the flush card came out, then there is a good chance they have a flush. If no flush card came out then there is a good chance they were looking for the flush. If they already had a big hand then they would probably raise you on the flop or turn to protect their big hand from that flush draw. In that case, it is easy to put them on a draw and call their bluff.


Another instance of a big bet is when your opponent wants to make a lot of money. Sometimes players do not think right and instead of making a value bet they get greedy. They put out a huge bet and they are just begging you for a call. The problem is that this will often look like a bluff. If you stop and think about the hand and how it played out, you should have a better idea of what your opponent has in his or her hand.

If there are not any draws on the board and things are just not adding up then there is a good chance your opponent has been slow playing the monster the whole time. In that case, you should be able to fold very easily and avoid paying off the big hand. It is always one or the other. A big bet on the river is either trying to get paid off or get you off the hand. All you have to do is figure out which one is which.