You’re playing Texas hold ‘em and you’ve stuck with a particular hand through to the turn. But you have not yet seen that card that will ensure you win the hand.
Your last chance is with the river and you’re trying to decide if you should stay. What should you do?
That depends on a lot of things. Before you decide if you’re going to stay or fold, you need to factor in some information. Doing so will enable you to make the correct decision regarding a particular hand.
Assess Your Situation
You need to assess your situation in the following areas:
• How much it will cost to stay.
• The size of your stack.
• Hand strength.
• The number of possible outs.
• Risk factor.
Here’s a quick look at each of these areas. We’re assuming in this scenario that if you pull the card you require that you’ll have a good chance of taking the hand.
Cost to Stay
Risking a lot on the river can be a foolish proposition. Can you stay on a check? That’s great! Are you being asked to make the minimum wager? That’s probably fine too. But if the wager is large, then you’ll need to ask yourself a few other questions.
What’s the size of your stack? Are you the top dog by 60%, 70% or even more? If so, then staying for the river may be worth your while. But if you’re short stacked or simply in a mediocre position, you probably want to fold. But don’t fold just yet. Consider a few other factors.
Assess the strength of the hands of those still in the game. Does the apparent power of their hands simply make it unlikely that you’re going to win? Are you facing one other player or many others and how many are really in the mix? Finally, if there is a tie do you have an ace kicker that will overpower all others at the table?
How many outs are at your disposal? Do you need a king to make trips? If you do, that means that there are already two being used. That gives you at most two possible outs and there could be no outs left.
However, if you’re holding an ace of hearts and another heart and there are two other hearts on the table, then any heart will do. You may have up to 11 outs. You’re chances of getting the card you need are much better than if you’re looking for three of a kind. Count your outs and weight them in your decision.
Finally, think about the risk factor. In this case, the risk factor is determined by comparing the percentage of your stack you have to risk, your number of outs and how much you stand to win. If you’re risking a small percentage of your chip stack, have seven or more outs and can win a large pot, then your overall risk factor is low. If, however, you have to bet 20% or more of your stack and you have just a few outs, your possible payout may not matter. Those two risk factors may outweigh any payout.
Making Your Decision
The decision is always yours to make and it will be influenced partly by your playing style. If you embrace aggressive play, then risk factor and other considerations may not matter. You’re going to go for it no matter what. If you’re a passive player, then chances are unless there are huge factors in your favor that you won’t stay for the river. Whatever you decide make a decision that you can live with once you see how that river flows.