There is a common issue among all losing players… curiosity causes them to call rivers way too frequently with subpar hands. How many times have you reached the river with 1 pair, your opponent bets, and based on the player, the board, their range and their bet size, you knew you were beat but you called anyways? I bet your answer is, “Waaayyy too many times.”
This curiosity, to know that they actually did have you beat, is killing your winnings.
In this post, I’m going to help you satisfy your curiosity off-the-felt so that you can fold more often on the river in order to improve your winnings.
Listen to podcast #323 as you follow along below:
Just imagine if you are able to fold when you know you are beat. How many blinds would you save? How high would your win rate be? I’ve always believed that a penny saved is a penny earned in poker, and I’m going to help increase your poker earning below.
Curiosity Kills Your Winnings
Yeppers, curiosity kills cats and it also kills your winnings. But it doesn’t just kill your winnings, it kills your bankroll and your enjoyment of the game. When you call on the river to verify your read when you already know you’re beat, you’re going against all your poker training and instincts, and you’re just handing your chips to your opponent.
You end up berating yourself for your terrible call and your chip stack hates you because it just lost some hard-won friends. Now it’s smaller and weaker due to your curiosity.
This bad call can lead to anger and tilt and further losses as well. So, let me help you ditch your curiosity on-the-felt. Here are some strategies that I use to make better river calling decisions.
Trust Your Gut
That’s right. Your gut has developed of sense of when you’re beat or when you’re ahead. This gut instinct comes from spending months or even years playing and studying poker.
How often do you observe a hand after you folded preflop, and you see a player make a bet, and you just instinctively know they have it? All the time, I bet. You say to yourself, “Wow, he’s got it. The other player should fold.” And at showdown, your gut is often proved correct.
Why is it easier to listen to your gut when you’re not involved in the hand? It’s because your emotions aren’t blocking the connection between your mind and gut. When you hold that TP hand, you want to win. That emotion drives you to ignore your gut which is telling you to fold.
You MUST begin training yourself to listen to your gut. Before your next session, give your gut permission to direct your actions (sounds hokey, but it works). If your gut is telling you that you’re beat on the river? Fold. If it’s telling you the other player will fold to a 3bet? Make a 3bet bluff. If it’s telling you that they have a 1 pair hand and will call your 2 pair river value bet? Make the value bet.
Before Taking Action, Ask Yourself Poker’s Ultimate Question
What are they doing this with?
If you ask and answer this question every time before taking action, especially before you call somebody’s bet or raise on the river, the answer is going to guide your button click. In order to answer the question properly, you must take into account the type of player you’re up against, their range and the board, and the actions they’ve made. If the answer to the question is, “They’re only doing this with 2 pair or better”, then no gut instinct needed. You only have 1 pair, you obviously lose to any 2 pair hand… easy fold.
Curiosity isn’t even a factor when you use your intellect and reasoning to answer Poker’s Ultimate Question. Just remember to allow the answer to the question to guide your response.
Hand Reading is Critical
In order to properly answer Poker’s Ultimate Question, you must put them on a preflop range of hands and narrow it through the streets. This is a skill called Hand Reading and it’s the most important skill you can develop. In order to become the poker player you want to be, you must be able to hand read every opponent in every situation. With a good idea of your opponent’s range, folding, betting, raising and calling are all easier to do and you’re more likely to be making the correct play.
To help you learn how to hand, I created an epic 3,700-word Hand Reading post with loads of videos and action steps that will teach you how to do hand reading.
Play the Player
Are they acting contrary to their tendencies? This is especially noticeable when you’re up against Fish, TAG or Nit players. When these players are aggressively committing chips to the pot with big bets and big raises, especially on the river, they’re acting contrary to their natural tendencies.
- Fish naturally just want to win at showdown with their 1 pair hands and only raise with the nuts.
- Nits and TAG players like to play for smaller pots unless they’ve got a very strong hand worthy of committing lots of chips, especially with big bets or raises on the river.
So, when a generally calling, checking or pot controlling player commits a lot of river chips, leave curiosity behind and just fold.
Call When Your Hand > Their Betting Range
The only reason to call on the river is if your hand is ahead of their betting range. This means that you must be able to name hands that they’re betting that are worse than your hand.
You have AQ on the AJ983 board. They bet ¾ pot on the river. If they can do it with AT, A7, A6, KJ, and QJ, then calling is okay. But, if they’re only doing it with AK or 2 pair hands or better, then calling is a terrible choice.
So, if you ask the question, “What are they doing this with?” and you can’t name any worse hands, just fold. If you can name lots of worse hands, then calling is absolutely fine.
Before I tell you how to satisfy your curiosity off-the-felt, one last tip for you…
Learn from Your Mistakes
Those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
So, finally get this lesson through your thick skull! You’ve called too many rivers when you knew you were beat and you berated yourself afterwards. Commit to never doing this again. Your goal, when you know you’re beat, is to fold.
Your past curiosity, and the fact that you still haven’t learned from these repeated mistakes, has caused you to lose 20/30/100bb’s over and over again on the river. Ditch the curiosity, learn from your past mistakes and start folding more often.
Satisfy Your Curiosity Off-the-felt
I want to help you satisfy your curiosity, but it’s gonna take some off-the-felt work. Presumably, you’re an online player with a database of PokerTracker 4 hands. Let’s use this database to learn from your river calling mistakes of the past. Here’s the 4-step process:
Step 1: Filter for Losing River Calls
Step 2: Count the # of Losing 1 Pair Hands
You can see your final hand easily in the “Final Hand” column in PokerTracker 4. So, you can count this without going through each and every hand.
In the picture above, the 2nd hand has the Final Hand labeled as “Two Pair, Kings and Sixes”. But, if you look closely, you’ll see the board was 8K52K. With the pair of Kings on the board, I would count this as a 1 pair river calling hand.
Step 3: Count the Hands Strengths that Beat You
Again, you can do this without reviewing each hand. Look at the “Winning Hand” column in PT4 (picture above). Because you filtered for all losing hands, this column will show the hand strengths that beat you.
In the picture above, there was one straight that beat me, a better 1 pair hand and a three of a kind hand.
You’ll probably find that most of the hands that beat you are 2 pair or better, many of them being trips, straights or flushes.
Step 4: Review 50+ Losing Hands
I know it sounds like a lot of reviewing to do, and you can space it out over a few days. The goal here is to satisfy your curiosity off-the-felt so you don’t feel the need to do it in-game. Reviewing lots of hand will hopefully satisfy your curiosity and it will help this lesson sink in.
As you review these hands, ask yourself if they’re betting any worse hands on the river. Think about their range and player type to help you find your calling mistakes.
My guess is that at least 80% of the time, you should’ve known you were beat and folding was the correct play.
I also recommend that as you go, you keep track of the # of BB’s you would’ve saved if you had folded when you knew you were beat. I bet you could’ve saved hundreds of BB’s. If you add up 400bb’s you could’ve saved, that’s 4 full buy-ins that could’ve been in your bankroll right now.
Do you need to learn how to find the fold more often? Check out my Finding the Fold Course within the Poker Forge:
This is THE COURSE that will help you finally learn to find the fold! Too many of us call and give loads of value to our opponents because we don’t want to be bluffed, we hope we’re ahead or we just don’t know what else to do.
This course will help you save money in post-flop play by avoiding terrible money-losing calls. Saving money in poker is just as good as making money, so be ready for your win rates and bottom line to increase with this one. The course contains:
- 18 strategy, review or demonstration videos
- 3 quizzes
- LIVE Q&A Recording
- Statistics and Win Rate tracker to gauge your progress
Join the Poker Forge today for access to this and 7 other Masterclass courses that will help you become the player you want to be.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Satisfy your curiosity off-the-felt by completing the 4 steps I outlined above. This is a critical action to take that will help you save money on your poker journey, and every BB saved is a BB earned.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Silverio Catenacci, Robert Monighetti, Marco De Maria, John Barry, Chris Moody, Josh Swenski, taconight, Adam Wiklo, Paul Griffin, Leo Messmer, Alexander Godborg, Dominik Gasser, Cole Hanke, Larry Leonard, Logan Yu, Jeff Catalano and Nigel McWilliams picked up PokerTracker 4 (get it here to support the show), the best poker tracking software. I love it and use it everyday! In appreciation, I sent all these awesome poker peeps a copy of my Smart HUD for PT4. With an ever-growing database of hands to study and all the helpful features, PT4 is the go-to software for serious poker players.