I've been working on incorporating thinner value bets on the river in my game during the past month or so in my regular LHE play at my local cardroom with the stated goal of maximizing my true winrate -- although, this increases your variance, which is a consequence one must learn to cope with. This guy's last couple of blog posts gave me a prod in posting a few thoughts about this concept, since optimal play on the big-bet streets in LHE is every bit as important as it is in PLO or NLHE. Delving into these psychological issues is, I think, a key improvement to make once you have reached a certain plateau and are looking for ways to grow one's poker game to a new, higher level. If your "A-Game" can become even better, and you master ways to play your best game more often, you should see better results in the long run.
Here is a recent example from my regular game where I think I clearly wussed out and missed out on significant value. After I raked in the pot, I forced myself to sit out for an orbit as I mulled over the mistakes I had made and refocussed for the remainder of my session.
I found myself on the button with AcKc. Naturally, I put in a re-raise to three bets when given the opportunity, as a player in late position had put in a raise over a couple of limpers. The small blind, a middle-aged Asian woman who was lighting money on fire that night, although she is probably a small long-term winner in the game from what I've seen, called three bets cold and five players saw the flop (with about 8 big bets already in the middle). The beauty of this situation is that I had well over my fair share of pot equity; with a lot of dead money involved, I was in a good spot with position and a premium hand.
The flop came down KQJ with two hearts (and one club, for a backdoor nut flush draw). It was checked to me, I bet, the small blind check-raised and the original preflop raiser called two bets cold. I overcalled. The three of us saw the turn, which was an offsuit jack. She led out, the other player called, and I overcalled, even though I strongly suspected (due to past experience with these players and some fairly reliable tells) that I had the best hand. Consequently, it follows that I missed a raise for value against the range of hands my two opponents were playing, and I failed to charge all the drawing hands and worse made hands to outdraw me. This was a major error, to my mind. If I had been re-raised, I could safely throw AK away (I don't think either of the two players I was tussling with was capable of 3-betting a worse hand than mine); if I trusted my read at the time, I should follow through and attempt to maximize my equity whilst making a strong play with the benefit of position.
The river blanked and it was checked around. Again, I arguably missed a value bet, even though the board was scary. Why should I expect these players to check better hands than mine in this situation? Answer: I shouldn't, so I should bet for value and strongly consider bet-folding if I were check-raised on the end.
As it turned out, the small blind showed KhTh for missed straight and flush draws and the other player mucked, claiming to have held KTo. I played the river horribly, I think - nearly as badly as I misplayed the turn. Heck, you could even argue that I should have 3bet the flop (although the small blind would have been justified in capping it against me).
Comments on the larger issues are welcome, as well as duly-earned criticisms on how I butchered this hand.
As an aside, happily my local cardroom is regularly getting a 10-20 LHE game going Fri-Sun. I should be regularly playing in this game very soon and hopefully will be able to report back with some interesting hands during the next few months. The 5/5 PLO game still goes regularly and is good but I don't feel the time is right to take shots at that game, mostly due to expected variance issues given the fact that I am not properly rolled for it yet and would prefer not to have to rebuild my BR if I went on a string of losing five buyins.