Understanding The Check-Raise Play in Poker
A check-raise is a two-part move made after the flop in no-limit hold'em - a player checks, another bets, and the first player responds by raising. For relatively new players the check-raise may represent one of the first examples of 'thinking ahead' with their decisions, since the initial check is done (or should be done) with an intention of raising after an opponent bets.
Generally speaking, there are two purposes for check-raising — as a value bet (when you have a strong hand that figures to be better than your opponent's) or as a bluff (when you have a weak hand that is likely behind your opponent's).
Check-raising for value:
If you do decide to check-raise with a strong hand, be reasonably sure that your opponent will bet if you check, since there's nothing worse that checking down a big hand without any additional chips going into the pot. If you doubt your opponent will bet, forgo the check-raise and lead with a bet in order to get more value from your good hand. Follow this only when you have a stronger hand than your opponent(s), you are reasonably sure your opponent will bet if you check and you believe check-raising to be a better way of building a pot than leading with a bet.
Check-Raising as a Bluff
Most players will check-raise for value more often than they will check-raise as a bluff, although the latter play can be especially effective given a favourable set of circumstances. As with check-raising for value, the bluff check-raiser is checking while anticipating an opponent will be betting, thereby providing the opportunity to check-raise. Since the move is being made as a bluff, the player making it believes both that the opponent has a better hand thus the pot probably can't be won if the hand goes to showdown, and the "story" of the bluff is going to be a believable one, thus being more likely to work and earn a fold.
Firstly do not check-raise as an afterthought after checking to an opponent without a plan of what to do next. As mentioned above, the check-raise is a two-part post flop play that requires you to think ahead, knowing when you check and that you'll be raising after your opponent bets. Secondly, don't check-raise just for the sake of making a showy, "fancy" play. Remember, you're check-raising because it's the best way to build a bigger pot (if it's for value) or the best way to elicit a desired fold (if it's a bluff).
These were the two types of check-raise scenarios we could think of. Do you know of any more? If yes, then please leave a comment. Also, keep reading GutshotMagazine.com for more poker gyaan!
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