Check-Raising

The play of checking your holdem hand with the purpose of raising on the same holdem round after a rival bets is called as check-raising. Remember that check-raising and slow-playing are the two ways to play a strong hand weakly to trap your rivals down. But these two are not the same thing. The check-raise is often used to eliminate rivals from competing for the pot. Sometimes, in limit texas hold'em, this is an advantageous characteristic of check-raising.

To make a check-raising correct, you should:

1. Think you have the best holdem poker hand (but not a slow-playing hand).

2. Be very sure that someone will bet behind you if you check.

A check-raising would be correct when you flop top two pair, when there are many players on the flop, and when you are in an early position. This is basically true if you think that the bet will come from a late position player. (The action before the flop will often suggest where the bet is likely to come from.)

It is also sometimes correct to check-raise with a drawing hand. For example when you think a player to your left will bet and two or more players will call. However, you should raise if you afraid of a re-raise or if there is a good chance that your hand won't win even if you hit it (perhaps a pair shows). Also remember that a four-flush or an open-end straight draw should be bet if there is some chance that you can steal the pot.

Two explicit things can happen if you check good many hands on the flop. First, some of your rivals will fear to bet. That is, they may be more willing to give you a free card and this free card may win the pot for you.

Second, even if a blank hits on the turn you will be able to steal the pot. Your rivals will not suspect a bluff only because you didn't bet on the flop, as they will think you are just trying for a check-raise. It is also possible that your rivals might feel conceited when you bet, as they "escaped your trap." (When you are bluff in this case, do not show your hand.) But still remember that if you check the hands on the flop, the free card that you give may sometimes cost you the pot.

You can even check-raise a semi-bluff. For example if you hold

And the flop comes

You bet and are raised and you (correctly) call the raise. The turn comes

Now, check-raising would be the correct play for you. You want your rivals to fold but with your straight-flush draw, you have a lot of outs even if you are called.
Let's take another holdem example. Suppose you have

And the flop comes

If any spade comes on the fourth street, you can go for a check-raise. This is the correct play whether or not you were raised on the flop. However, if your rival is a "caller" it may be best to bet.

A check-raise also has another most significant reason. It is a fact in online poker games of present structure, the bet on the flop is not large enough, when compared to the size of the pot, to make it incorrect for drawing hands (and the hands include a middle pair) to call. This means that you should check-raise most of the time in order to cut down the odds for rivals to draw out on you when the pot is tremendously big. (If the pot is small you should be ready to bet with your good hands, your draws and your semi-bluffs.)

A correct guideline to follow is to consider check-raising if it is unlikely that an over card can hurt you. That is, if you flop high pair and your high pair is aces, kings, or queens (and you have an over card kicker with your queen), then check-raising is the correct play if several players at the table is still left to act behind you. If your high pair is lower than queens, it is very risky to try for a check-raise because a free card can easily beat you.

However, if you flop high pair in a huge multi-way pot, it still may be correct to check-raise, even if you fear of an over card, especially if you are in an early position. This is because the pot is so big that if you bet, you can hope many callers. Moreover, trying to limit out the field, it may be necessary to risk the free card.

For example, in a big multi-way pot, you hold

in an early position. The flop comes:

You should go ahead and check-raise. If you bet into many players and the pot is big, you will surely get many callers, and an ace or a king is likely to beat you. However, if you go for a check-raise and are able to eliminate a late-position player, you still may win even if one of those cards hits. Your check-raise will force out many holdem hands such as 87 while a simple bet wouldn't. Here, you have eliminated the 1-to-5 chance that a player with this kind of hand will beat you.

Another thing to consider is how aggressive your rivals are and whether your hand is strong enough for three bets. Suppose if you flop a very strong hand and a very aggressive player who showed some pre-flop strength is in the late-position, it would be best to go for three bets, by re-raising his raise.

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