The check/raise – a powerful play in Texas Holdem poker
Have you heard of the check/raise move in Texas Holdem poker? Are you wondering what its about and why players with poker winning hands use it a lot? No matter what your answer is, we will take you on an exploratory ride that will help you understand the ins and outs of the move.
We will start by providing a simple explanation. It is a two-step process. Usually, a player will check, wait for his opponent to bet, and then re-raise the bet. The check/raise play is arguably a powerful move that can weaken your opponent in the game of poker. It is one gameplay that throws most players into confusion.
Why players check/raise in poker
Wise men have a good reason for doing what they do. In the same way, many poker players have good reasons for their every move while playing poker. But the question here is why will a poker player apply the check/raise strategy? The answer is for two reasons – for value or as a bluff or semi-bluff. We will consider these reasons in detail below.
To check/raise for value
It is good practice for newbies to use the check/raise game move to increase pot value. The decision to check-raise will work more in your favor if you are holding the best hand in poker.. The move will put more money in the pot. However, you must not check/raise at random; you must do so intelligentlys. Try to predict the cards your opponent may hold and their response to your gambit. You may consider check-raising if any of the following applies:
You are the first to act
Your opponent is likely to bet if you check
You have the best poker winning hand.
Your read is that your opponent has a weaker hand than you
Consider this scenario: following a late position raise, you flop a set of fours from the blind. If you check/raise big, you may scare your opponent out of the hands. But, that may not be applicable if the opponent is passive but hates to fold. In this case, it is good to start to check-raising with a small amount. Then, you can increase the pot value gradually.
The texture of a flop is also an issue that you should consider when you want to use this advanced poker strategy of check/raising for value. You should check the feature of the flop that gave you the set of fours before you check-raise. What might your opponent have here, could there be a straight out there or a flush? Depending on the texture, you can get a small continuation bet or a large sum in the pot.
To check/raise as a bluff or semi-bluff
Since check/raise is a powerful move, it is not unusual to find Texas Holdem poker players using it as a bluffing strategy. It is common to find players with weak hands using it to force the hands of their opponents.
A scenario where you can use the check-raise game move as a bluff is when you have called out of position in a heads-up pot. If you use check/raise strategy well, you can easily benefit from turning the hand to your advantage. This is because most poker players who raise pre-flop will opt-in for a continuation bet most times regardless of the nature of the flop. What is going on, in this case, is that you will be using the knowledge you have of your opponent to your advantage.
You can play a drawing hand with more enthusiasm if you check/raise as a semi-bluff. That means that you will rather check-raise instead of to check-call, thereby giving you an additional way to win the pot. After all, if you can take down the pot on the spot that’s a good win. And if your hand makes the draw, you have been pot building and will take more chips out of the centre.
Top check-raising tips
When you think you have the best hand in poker and you are contemplating a possible check/raise move, you should consider the few things. Some examples of these things are the texture of the board, the experience level of your opponent and previous responses, and the build-up action.
Make sure you check/raise hands after affirming that you don’t stand a chance of winning by calling, and there is a no showdown value. Be careful though, trying to turn a truly weak hands to a check/raise bluff is fraught with danger.
Try to be aggressive about your bluffs if you notice that your opponent folds easily and always. However, ensure you simultaneously raise your value range.
If you find out that an opponent is calling too much, it will do you good to limit or avoid bluffs. Instead, you can check/raise for value.
As an advanced poker strategy, it is a good practice for you to use the card removal effects (that is, the blocker effects) to ascertain the hands to check/raise. You should use this tactic if the opponent isn’t calling or folding too much.
Generally, try to raise slightly stronger ranges, especially if you are yet work out the playing style of your opponent. That way, you can use, to your favor, the fact that most opponents fold when confronted with a check/raise.
It may be a good idea to jot down some of the tips above, as they will guide you when you play poker. The check/raise strategy is a bit technical to newbies, so it’s normal if it takes you some time to put all these tips to practice. But, continue to make efforts to get better and win more games. The toughter your opponents the better – that’s how you learn. Enjoy playing Texas Holdem poker, but most specifically, enjoy using the check/raise winning strategy.