There is a simple equation to determine if a value bet on the river is profitable. When your bet is called, if you are good more than fifty percent of the time then we are in the green. This is only the case, though, when we are called. We could be making an improper value bets and not know because our opponent folds the river. Value betting in live low stakes no limit really is where ninety five per cent of the money is won and lost.
If you want to become a good no limit player you must constantly “value own” yourself. What this means is that when you are betting for value a fair amount of the time when you are called you should lose. Why would we ever want to lose? Because if when getting called we are always winning we are leaving tons of value on the table. The best example of this is to look at the typical patterns of your average “showdown monkey”. When this type of player bets for value he always thinks he has what is close to the nuts in his eyes. When he is called he is good almost one hundred percent of the time. The times that he is good only seventy five or eighty per cent of the time he checks his hand back on the river and gets to showdown. Now let us look at a more thinking good player. He tries to get the thinnest value that is possible increasing his winrate. When he bets on the river for value he may be good only sixty or seventy percent of the time. His bets are profitable (over fifty percent) but are wrong more often. It is fairly common to see him bet, be called and have a worse hand for value than his opponent. This is the definition of value owning. However, unlike the other player that checks back his strong non nut hands, he is actually getting value from those hands where he is only good sixty or seventy percent of the time.
A lot of people will counter my argument by saying that they do not value bet that much with medium strength hands in position because they do not want to open the betting back up in big bet poker. This can be a viable concern against aggressive players in a tournament when they know that they can put a lot of pressure on your for your tournament life and the bluffing frequency is higher. However like I have stated before, in cash games this dynamic just doesn’t exist. Usually when you are value betting you think that your opponent has some sort of worse hand—and most players will not be good enough to turn these worse hands (a hand like second pair or top pair weak kicker) into bluffs.
One of the ways to improve your game is to start value owning yourself more. This is a technique to help you value bet more often. Remember, so long as you are good more than fifty percent of the time when called, your bet is profitable. You would like to get that number down as close to fifty as possible so you should be losing some of these showdowns!! If you are always winning when you value bet you are playing to close to Mr Showdown Monkey.