The last card dealt into the flop in the center of a Holdem table is called the River. This card can break or make hands for more than one player at the table. Be careful if it makes your hand, as it could also make some other player’s hand. There are obvious exceptions, like flushes or full houses, but just do not let making your hand blind you to the possibility that another player may have been helped by the deadly River card.
If you are unsure think about checking and calling your opponent. This is the safest way to play the hand. If it gives you the mortal lock think about check raising so as to get full value from the hand. If the card makes you an unusually good hidden hand, make a bet and hope you get raised.
If the cards are running over you then playing to catch on the River makes sense. Do not play for River catches all of the time, as this can be very costly in Holdem. Good players make bets and raises to stop others from playing to get River help. A small raise may be all that is needed to make an opponent throw away their hand and not see the River.
Do not be a constant whiner about getting beat on the River. It happens to all players who play Holdem. You also will get little sympathy from the other players who are forced to listen to your sad tale. You are not the first player to be killed on the River. River cards do even out over time. Some times you will get a strong hunch as to what the River card will be. It is okay to play a hunch in poker. The math of the game only goes so far for really good players. Watch a few tournaments on TV and you will see miracle River draws that defy any reasonable expectation by most players. It happens to all players, making or breaking their hand. It hurts when you get a bad beat on the River, but how you handle the adversity can determine how you play from that time on. Good players accept the River as part of the game. After all Holdem is a seven-card poker game and each player is entitled to see all seven cards if they are willing to pay the price.
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