23 Nov

How to Play the Check-Raise

The “check-Raise” is among the most effective weapons for skilled poker players, when used properly…

The “check-Raise” is among the most effective weapons for skilled poker playersThere are a few spectacular poker betting strategies that can be extremely effective. The bluff is the one every player is most familiar with (although the majority don’t do it well). Another is called the “check-raise”. Even fewer players know how to effectively pull off this one.

The check-raise can be the most fearsome move in the game. For victims, it’s a gut-wrenching feeling the moment we realize it’s happening. For those committing the move, it can be hard not to throw your head back and cackle as the victim tries not to react.

What is a Check-Raise in Poker?

The name check-raise refers to a player’s betting pattern on a single street. You open the street with a check. Then, when a player bets behind you, raise back to them.

Why Should You Check-Raise?

There are two times you should incorporate the check-raise.

  1. When you believe you have the strongest hand, and want to raise the value of the pot.

  2. When you want to bluff your opponent and scare him away from the pot.

Where to Use the Check-Raise

You can use the check-raise poker strategy in any and all types of poker. Cash games, tournaments, MTTs or SNGs, live or online. The check-raise should always be a part of your arsenal.

When to Check-Raise your Opponent(s)

To use this maneuver, you need to things working in your favor. First, none may have bet before you in the street, lest you won’t have the option to check. You also need someone to bet after you so that you can follow with a raise, therefore you cannot be last to act.

For so many other betting strategies, being in position (later to act) is good for your game. But this move does offer UTG players a great weapon to work with.

How to Check-Raise for Value

As I said above, there are two times it can be beneficial to pull the trigger on a check-raise. The first is to get more value in the pot when you have a good hand. When you’re first practicing this poker betting strategy, it’s best that the majority of your check-raises be for value.

When you think you have the best hand at the table—and your opponent is the aggressive type to play a wider (weaker) range of hands when an opponent shows weakness—make your move. This could cause them to do anything from calling the raise, to shoving their entire stack all-in, so make sure you’ve got the goods to compete.

If your opponent is the passive type, they may fold even a strong hand on the check-raise. So, if you’re going for value here, be careful. If you have the nuts, check-raising the wrong opponent could cost you value instead.

How to Check-Raise Bluff

Being such a frighteningly effective move, the check-raise is also one of the best bluffs in poker.

As a bluff, the best time to check-raise is when a flop delivers high potential for a big hand—especially a starting hand you would be more likely to flat call pre-flop; 5-6-7 rainbow, for example. A middle pocket pair could become trips, or a mid-range connector becomes a made straight. Check-raising on this scary flop can be very effective.

It’s also a great way to handle semi-bluff situations. If you flop a flush draw, instead of the usual check-call, make it a check-raise. If your opponent(s) bail, you’ve won with nothing. If they call, at least you’ve got the 6-outs draw to fall back on.

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