One aspect of poker that many novice and intermediate players often play poorly is value betting the river when they’re last to act. This play is a no-brainer when you have the nut hand, but that’s usually not the situation that you’re in. Making a river bet after it’s been checked to you opens you up to a possible check-raise, and could end up costing you a lot of chips instead of just a few, had you checked down on fifth street.
Deciding when to bet the river for value is usually up to the situation around you and the opponent you’re in the hand with. If the player has shown examples of being shifty in their play, and demonstrated that they like to trap, you should consider checking the river instead of betting. Make sure you have at least top pair against this type of player, as they are more likely to be holding something that could beat you. Betting out rivers with second pair or top pair/weak kicker will only get action from hands that will beat it.
If your opponent is a loose type of player who likes to make hero calls with second pair or a smaller pocket pair, you should bet your hand for value more often. You’ll also want to bet more than you would bet at the rocks. Take advantage of this player type every time it’s possible.
The toughest value bets are the ones where the pot has been orphaned by the river. An opponent raises pre-flop and often bets the flop, only to check the turn and river. These hands are usually two big cards that didn’t hit the flop. Hands like a small pocket pair or second pair on the board can be value bet if you think you have the best of it.