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What does it mean when you hit the river in poker, and how should you play it?

In poker, the river is the last round of betting. The river is the phase of the poker game in which the fifth and final communal card is dealt. Showdown happens when there are no more betting rounds and all surviving players expose their cards to choose a winner.
When the river comes, the pot is already rather large, so any misstep ends up being quite pricey. It’s common practice to try to “take out” an opponent on the river by calling his or her bluff and taking his pot in order to avoid a showdown.

On the river, everyone sees their whole hand and the final bets are placed.

These objectives are pursued while out on the river:

Maximizing the pot is the goal of every player who believes he or she has the best hand and that no other player can beat it.

Value betting is a deliberate raise that is met by a call from the opponent.

A player may use the bet-raise tactic by making a modest wager and then calling a larger bet from an opponent. The pot is dramatically increased after the re-raise.

A player may win the pot without having to expose their hand if they make a large enough raise that none of their opponents will call.

To keep your losses to a minimum, you should fold if you aren’t confident in your bluff and your hand isn’t good enough to increase the pot’s value. In order to mitigate the damage of any losses, you should either check and fold or bet and fold.

Showdown for cheap — when a player isn’t certain that he has a stronger hand than his opponent and wants to avoid betting too many chips on the showdown.

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