The Check-Raise in poker is basically checking when it is your turn to act, and raising after a player behind you opens with a bet. This is known as a trapping move.
There are usually TWO reasons players use this action. It’s used either as a way to add value to a hand (raising the amount of money in the pot with what you believe is the best hand), or as a bluff (making your opponent fold what you think is the best hand).
The Check-Raise can be used not only when playing Texas Hold’em Poker but in any poker game. Whether or not you’re playing home games, online poker, live games, cash games or tournaments, keeping this strategy in your arsenal can be useful and effective. In order to execute a Check-Raise, you must be able to Check before calling a Raise so you can only do this when you’re out of position.
In this guide, we will go through the basics of the Check-Raise. In order to successfully pull it off, you must first understand why you’re doing it. As mentioned earlier, there are TWO reasons to do a Check-Raise: 1. To add value: You believe you’re holding the best hand and you want to increase the money in the pot 2. To bluff: You believe your opponent has the best hand and you’re hoping a Check-Raise would bluff your opponent into a fold.
In the beginning, you should start off with the Check-Raise to add value. Dip your toe into it by trying it when you believe you have the best poker hand to maximise the value of the pot. The stronger your hand, the easier it will be to execute this. Take it slow and once you’re more confident you’ll feel more comfortable with putting your chips at risk.
When you Check, your opponent will assume you have a weak hand and they will fall into a trap and make a bet in an effort to use their position to win the pot with a less than desirable hand. When it’s your turn to act and you Raise their bet, you force your opponent into a corner. There’s always the option of laying down but your opponent could make the mistake of calling with a weaker hand, or shoving all-in with a mediocre hand or a drawing hand.
Your desired outcome really depends on the size of your raise. If you over play it and make a big bet while holding the nuts you might set off some alarms and your opponents may just lay down before you can get them to contribute more to the pot. But if you make a small bet you’ll be giving opponents on a draw the opportunity to improve their hand by buying the next card. So before you decide on a number, make sure to evaluate the bet size of your opponents from the previous rounds and use that as an indication as to what amount would be ideal.
The Check-Raise is one of the most powerful and effective poker moves and it has seen many victims. Take advantage of this and you may be able to get your opponents to fold even though they have a strong hand. It’s not so much about what cards you’re holding, it’s about what cards you make them believe you’re holding.
The basic strategy of betting is continuation betting (following up a pre-flop bet with a bet on the flop, regardless of whether the player has hit or not). When a player bets or raises pre-flop, it is highly likely that they have decent hole cards such as A-K-. When the flop shows 5-6-7 you can Check-Raise as a bluff by making your opponents believe you’re holding hole cards that you’re likely to call with pre-flop. In this bluff, you’re hoping to make your opponent believe that you’ve hit a set or a possible straight with suited connectors.
Once again, the size of your bet matters. Take into consideration that your opponent might be drawing and would risk their chips to buy the turn and the river. With this in mind you will be able to plan your bet size as well as your next action should you reach the turn and the river. Worst case scenario, the remaining community cards improves your opponents hand and you’ll just have to cut losses and lay down.
In addition to creating value and bluffing, the Check-Raise is also effective as a semi-bluff. It adds strength and value to your drawing hands. If you happen to flop a flush draw or a straight draw, try a Check-Raise instead of just checking or calling a bet. This way, you add value to the pot if in the case you do hit the straight or the flush on the turn. It might also cause your opponents to fold before you get there so it’s another way of winning the pot without hitting anything on the flop.
Incorporating the Check-Raise into your poker game will also help make you a less predictable poker player. If you’re a player who always Check-Folds or Check-Calls, it’ll be obvious that you have a decent hand when you do anything other than those actions. By mixing it up, your opponent won’t be able to know whether you have a weak hand if you simply just Check it.
If you feel that the Check-Raise strategy is too advanced, check out our poker guide on the basics of Checking in Poker or our beginners guide on How to Play Poker.
Related: A Guide To Checking In Poker
Related: Poker Actions Explained