It is not something you want to strive for, but there are times when you are playing poker and will end up with just Ace high on the river. In a limit game, many times this is usually a situation in which you can bet, and while usually ill advised, there are situations in No Limit tournament play that you can bet on the river with just Ace high.
Poker is a puzzle with many pieces, and making a play like this requires being able to fit all the pieces of the hand together. Some things you are going to want to take a look at are pot size, and bet sizing, and more importantly you want to analyze the information you have collected from your opponent. You need to be aware of his tendencies and what he or she is capable of in the given situation, how the hand has been played, and of course you want to analyze the board.
Knowing how your opponent plays is extremely crucial to being able to pull off this play. You will not find many players are going to be calling you on the river without at least a medium to top pair. These are the same players that if they were to bet out, folding your Ace high is your best bet.
You are also going to encounter players who will play there straight or flush draw with a lot of aggression on the flop and even on the turn, and upon missing, the only way they are going to take down the pot on the river is by betting and forcing you to fold. You need to be aware of what type of player you are playing against, knowing whether or not they can fire another bet when missing may be the difference between dragging in the pot and pushing it to someone else.
As an example, lets assume you are playing at the same table for a long enough period of time to have a solid idea of how your opponents are playing. You are in middle position with AQ off suit, you make a pre flop raise, and get called by two players. The flop comes out and it is 8 T 5 with two spades. You bet out, get one caller, and one player folds. The turn comes out a brick, you check and your opponent makes a bet, which you call. The river bricks you again, now if you check here and are bet at, you are going to have a serious decision to make. This is where knowing the player is key. You must be able to read whether your opponent missed a draw, or was slow playing a pair on the flop. You need to trust your instincts here, but folding every time in this situation is a bad play. If you call and lose, you are showing that you won’t be bluffed or semi bluffed at when you do have a hand.
Pick your spots well with this play and it can be a great way to add to your chip stack. Tune in when you are at the tables and watch for those who are betting missed draws.