By checking and raising your opponent’s bet you can use his position against him to get more money into the pot when you’re holding the nuts, and make him throw away the best hand when you’re bluffing.
The check-raise is a technique you should be using in every poker session, but it’s extremely important to understand the move and how to use it so it doesn’t become a serious leak.
When to Check Raise in Poker
What : A check-raise in poker consists of checking when the action's on you, and raising after a player behind you has bet. The check-raise is a trapping move.
Why: Check-raising can be done for two reasons. Either you are check-raising for value, to get more money into the pot when you think you have the best hand, or check-raising as a bluff, to make your opponent throw away the best hand.
When: The check-raise is an essential Texas Hold’em move that is right at home in any poker game on the planet. It’s equally effective in cash games, tournaments and sit and gos.
Where: Since you must check in order to check-raise, this move only works when you’re out of position.
Check-Raising Done Right
Since this is a beginner poker strategy series, moves like the check-raise must be handled with care.
While the check-raise is definitely an essential move and deserves a spot in every poker player’s toolbox, if you start firing off check-raises willy nilly it’s only going to get you into trouble.
The first thing you need to know when check-raising is why you’re doing it. Poker is a game of planning and the check-raise is a prime example.
Unless you know what you’re trying to accomplish by check-raising you’ll just be burning money. Check-raising is done in two main ways:
- You hold what you think is the best hand and you check-raise for value to get more money into the pot, or
- You think your opponent has the best hand and you’re check-raising as a bluff to make your opponent fold
Check-raising also serves to balance your checking range, meaning that by raising some of the times when you check, your opponent won’t automatically know you have a weak hand when you check to them.
Check-Raising for Value
As a beginner the vast majority of the times you check-raise should be for value. When you think you have the best hand you need to get as many chips into the pot as possible.
The better your hand, the more comfortable you should be putting all your chips at risk. Check-raising for value gives you another way to entice your opponent into putting money into the pot.
By checking and signalling weakness your opponent will bet a wider range of hands, trying to use position to win the pot with weak holdings.
By check-raising you can either force your opponent into making a mistake by calling with the worst hand, or you can induce and all-in shove from drawing hands and second-best made hands.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind when check-raising for value:
- You must be first to act
- Your opponent must be aggressive enough that he will bet with a wide variety of hands when checked to
- Check-raising with a monster for value can be especially effective in multi-way pots
But remember, check-raising is a powerful move and can force your opponent into laying down even moderately strong hands.
So if you hold the nuts, be cautious of overplaying your hand and forcing your opponent into folding before putting all his money in the pot.
Check-Raising as a Bluff or Semi-Bluff
Because check-raising is such a powerful poker move it should come as no surprise that it’s one of the most effective bluffing tactics out there.
By taking advantage of a few common Hold’em situations, you can use the check-raise to knock players off pots regardless of the cards you’re holding.
The most common situation where the check-raise can be used as a bluff is in a heads-up pot when you’ve called out of position.
Because even most beginner poker players know they should be continuation-betting the majority of the time when they raise preflop, you can turn the tables on them with a well-timed check-raise.
In this situation you can use your opponent’s knowledge of c-betting to your advantage.
If your opponent decides to c-bet a 4♥ 5♥ 6♠ flop, you can check-raise as a bluff to represent a hand you’d be likely to just flat-call with preflop, a pocket pair that hit a set or suited connectors that flopped big.
Check-raising as a semi-bluff is also a great way to add strength to the way you play your drawing hands. Next time you flop a flush draw, check-raise instead of check-call and give yourself a second way to win the pot.
Check-Raising in Action
If you're still unconvinced about the power of the check-raise, check out the video below. Listen to Gus Hansen teach you about check-raising in a clip that looks more like a ransom video than a poker strategy tutorial. We particularly like the monotone delivery.
Learn More Essential Texas Hold'em Moves:
Texas Holdem FAQs
What are the top Texas Holdem Official Rules?1. BUY-IN - In a cash game, there is a minimum buy-in to enter, but you can reload or buy more chips at any point outside a hand. In a tournament you buy-in once, with the possibility of re-entering. Your starting stack is typically 100 big blinds or more.
2. DEALER BUTTON - This represents the 'rotating' dealer which moves after each hand. To choose the first dealer, each player picks a face-down card from the deck and the one with the highest value card is the dealer.
3. BLINDS - There are two 'blind' players after the button (clockwise) - Small and Big Blind. The big blind is the call price of the round and small blind is half of that. These are forced bets that the players in question need to put out to build a pot, irrelevant of their hand.
4. DEALING - You need to deal clockwise around the table, starting from the small blind. Each player gets one card at a time for a total of two hole cards. After a round of betting here, you deal 3 cards for the flop followed by another betting round. Then one more card for the turn, more betting, then one more river card and final betting. Before dealing each round, the dealer must 'burn' the card at the top of the deck
5. ACTIONS - Every time cards are dealt or turned on the board, there is an action. Choose to check (do nothing), bet (add chips to the pot), call (match someone's bet), raise (add even more chips than the bettor), or fold (discard their hand and exit the round). A bet must be at least worth two big blinds. Or if you raise, it must be at least double the previous bet. Each round is only over when all players have acted - either placed their chips, folded or checked around.
6. BETTING / RAISING RULES - You need to declare your intent to raise or the amount before making an action. Or bring their chip raise amount into play at the same time. You can't place chips gradually - This is known as a string bet and would be considered a call.
7. SHOWDOWN - Unless everyone folds to one player, the best hand at showdown (showing cards after last betting round post-river) wins the pot. The player who bet on the river should reveal their hand first. The other/s can show or muck/fold their hand and give up the pot.
8. THE BEST HAND - Poker hand rankings are as follows, with the best ranging from top to bottom:
Three of a Kind
How many Texas Holdem betting rounds are there?There are FOUR Texas Holdem betting rounds:
- after the turn
- after the river (showdown)
How should the Texas Holdem layout be?Note that the Texas Holdem layout includes three flop boxes, one turn box and one river card box on the felt table. You may also have a play section marked on the table where your bets are made, away from your stack
How many players for Texas Holdem?A Texas Holdem cash game is played on a single table with 2 to 10 players. The goal in a cash game is to win as many chips as you can. A multi-table tournament will have a number of players divided into multiple tables with 9-10 players on each table. As players run out of chips and are eliminated, the number of tables reduces until the final table (9-10 players). Play continues until heads up (2 players) and then the final prize winner.
How do blinds work in Texas Holdem?There are two 'blind' players after the button (clockwise) - Small and Big Blind. The big blind is the call price of the round and small blind is half of that. These are forced bets that the players in question need to put out to build a pot, irrelevant of their hand. This is to induce more action from these players because they have the worst position. Otherwise they'd never play!
How many cards do you get in Texas Holdem?Texas Hold'em combines your two hole cards with the five community cards. The player with the best 5-card hand (out of 7) including BOTH hole cards wins the pot for that round.
What's the most common winning hand in Texas Holdem?The hand rankings are placed in that order for a reason. The more valuable cards are the ones that are harder to get. So by default, since High cards and single pairs fall at the bottom, these are the most common hands to hit. Therefore, Ace or King high cards, or pairs - most likely a pair of face cards since they're played more.
What's the worst starting hand in Texas Holdem?72 off-suit is mathematically the worst starting hand you can have in Texas Holdem. In fact, many home or cash games on TV have a bonus for winning with this hand to induce action.
Do you shuffle after EVERY Texas Holdem hand?It's called the Shuffle and Cut - and it's done after every hand. When a round is over and the pot is won and distributed, the deck must be shuffled. Live card rooms will alternate decks between hands. The deck must also be cut with minimum four cards with the bottoms of the decks hidden from players. Only then can dealer deal the next hand.