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Bluff-raising Rivers

I hear this comment a lot:

"No one ever bluff raises the river!"

While it might be true that many players don't bluff raise the river enough I think it's probably unfair to say that no one ever bluff raises the river.

If that's how you feel though, then there's a chance that others feel the same. And if that's the case, then finding some bluff raises on the river should be a nice way to eek out more EV than even a solver would manage.

Enter a hand from Day 1 of SCOOP 2022. It comes from Event 06-H: $320 NLHE [8-Max], $250K Gtd. I raise the BTN with Kc5c off a 32.5bb stack and the BB, who has 34bb, calls.

The flop comes Th 5s 4c.

The BB checks, I bet 25% pot and the BB calls. I think we will probably use both a big and small size here and do some checking too. Hands like our first overpairs and our best Tx will want to use a big bet (the geometric sizing here is 66% pot, which looks good). 99, 88, 33 and 22 will want to check a lot, along with a decent number of Ace and King high hands and some 5x and 4x. And then a lot of the rest of our top pair hands and sets will want to use a smaller sizing.

When the BB just calls, his most common hands are 2nd and 3rd pair. I'd expect to see them raise their best Tx (top pair) on the flop together with two pair. Note: two pair is the best hand they'll have here as they would 3-bet or jam with 44, 55 and TT. I can see T4s and T4o just calling though. This is a common heuristic where top and bottom two pair will just call.

The turn is the Qh so the board now reads Th 5s 4c - Qh.

The BB checks again and I check back. This is a turn where I'll want to play a very polar strategy. Note: no range is truly polarised until the river, but the general idea here is that we're going to want to bet for value and as a bluff and then check the hands in the middle (that don't fall into either of those categories). Our hand (Kc5c) falls into the checking category. While we want to bet this turn a lot with our range to get our opponent to fold 5x and 4x hands (if we're bluffing), that doesn't make much sense when we beat all those hands right now. Our checking range should include some draws so that we can make strong hands on the river.

The river is the Jc, so the board reads Th 5s 4c Qh - Jc.

The BB now blocks for 25% pot. This is a great runout for me. I'm going to check back AK a lot on the turn so it's definitely credible for me to have the nuts here. The most common hand the BB will block bet here is 3rd pair (Tx) so this is our main target when we're bluffing. If we can beat a Ten, then we should just call. He can also bet two pair and a straight for this size, which means it would be nice for us to block those hands. We block two pair (with the 5c) and the only straight he can have K9 (with the Kc), which is important. We also have a ton of AK in our range.

This is a great spot to go for a bluff jam.

Our jamming range on the river should be very polarised (our range is now very easily defined as polarised), so we should jam AK for value and then some bluffs like K5s and K4s. Jamming is the biggest possible bet we can make so we can bluff more and he has to fold more.

Here's the hand to help you visualise it better:


  • Make sure you understand what your range looks like on all streets

  • Make sure your line makes sense

  • The bigger you bet, the more polarised your range can be

  • Check back some draws on the turn so you can still have strong hands on different rivers

Are you finding the bluff raise on the river?

Good luck at the tables and work hard off 'em!

Speak soon


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