Missing "thin value" bets on the river won’t make you a losing Texas Hold'em player.
But correctly recognizing opportunities and betting when it’s correct can add valuable points to your win rate.
A thin value bet is a value bet that may not be obvious at first. It's a bet, generally on the river, where your hand is weaker than your normal value range but you realize your opponent can still call with a worse hand.
Top 5 Spots to Make Thin Value Bets
5. When the flush draw misses
Probably the most obvious and yet somehow still the most effective thin value spot. When there's a flopped flush draw and you barrel the flop and the turn, then the river bricks, your opponent is going to much more willing than usual to call with nearly any made hand - especially if you have an aggressive image.
People love to put their opponents on draws so use it to your advantage when that draw misses.
$1/$2 No-Limit Hold'em; $200 effective stacks. It's folded to you on the button. You raise J10 to $6 and the regular in the big blind calls.
The flop comes 8J3. He checks and you bet $8.
He calls. The turn comes Q, he checks and you bet $30.
He calls. The river comes 2 and he checks.
You should be much more willing than normal to bet your second pair with a weakish kicker.
There were two flush draws and they both bricked. Your opponent is going to put you on a flush draw and call with a much wider range than normal.
4. When the top card on the board pairs
When the top card pairs on the river your opponent is often going to discount the fact that you have top pair/now trips because of card removal.
And when your opponent discounts your ability to have top pair, he defaults to calling more often with second pair.
If you have a hand like second pair, decent kicker or an over pair slightly smaller than the paired top card, you can now get value from those second-pair hands.
3. When you're near the top of your weak made-hand range
If you have a made hand that's near the top of your range, even if it's weak, it can be bet for value vs. a thinking opponent.
$1/$2, $200 effective stacks. You raise in the cut-off to $6 with 108. The button calls and the blinds fold. The flop comes Q84. You c-bet $8 and he calls.
The turn comes 4. You check and he checks behind. The river comes 6.
You can bet this river for thin value because it looks like you fired one c-bet, then gave up the turn and are now bluffing on the river. Because you would likely double barrel most top-pair hands your opponent is going to believe you're bluffing.
He'll probably be willing to call with a worse eight - something like 87, 89 or a missed gutshot that made a pair.
If you were to check, your opponent would likely check behind with his showdown-value hand. But by betting you can get him to call with that same weak showdown hand because your range is weak.
Your range is weak, but you're near the top of it so you can get value from your opponent's bluff catchers.
2. When an obvious scare card falls against a thinking opponent
This is an obvious second level. When a scare card falls your opponent is going to expect you to bluff at it at a high % of the time.
Thus he's going to adjust by calling down lighter. You can take advantage of this by betting some of your better "showdown value" hands for thin value.
1. When your range is heavily weighted towards bluffs
This is basically the running theme of this entire article and concept. The more bluffs that are in your range, the more you can bet for thin value.
The reasons are blatantly obvious. When your range is heavily weighted towards bluffs, your opponent is going to adjust by calling down with a much wider range. When they're calling with more hands, you can value bet more hands. It's as simple as that
How to Value Bet Thin
Value-betting thinly is a skill that takes practice. You must be acutely aware of both your perceived range and your opponent's range when deciding whether or not to bet the river for thin value.
If you don't really think about both your ranges you're just going to be clicking buttons - and in that case you can't be surprised when you're continually value-towning yourself with a worse hand than your opponent's.
However, if you really think about your range and your opponent's, there are a ton of spots on the river you may have checked through in the past where you can actually pick up thin value.
The difference of course is extra dollars in your online poker bankroll and points on your win rate.
More articles by Daniel Skolovy