A check-raise is when a player elects to check his hand when the action is on him but raise the bet of a later position player on that same round. A typical check-raise situation would occur on the flop if a late position player raised pre-flop and was called by one or more earlier position callers. On the flop, the early position callers would check the action to the pre-flop aggressor but raise the bet later that same round when the action is back on them. In Hold’em, check-raises can happen on any street including pre-flop if a player had to post money to see the hand.
Now that we have defined what check-raising is, let’s discuss when and why you should check-raise.
When you want to limit the field, a check-raise can be a great weapon. Assume you are the big blind and there are two limpers before the button raises. You and the two limpers call. You flop a strong hand, but there is a flush or a straight draw on the board. If you are sure the pre-flop aggressor will bet, you can check and then raise when it gets back to your turn. If the two limpers had drawing hands, they are likely to fold instead of cold calling two bettors and having the possibility of more raises on that round. One drawback to check-raising is that if the pre-flop aggressor does not bet, you give a free card.
Check-raising can also be used for building big pots. Assume you are the second limper pre-flop and the button raises. On the flop, the action is checked to the pre-flop aggressor who bets. The big blind and/or the other limper call the bet and you put in the check-raise. Unless the button re-raises, it is likely that everyone will call your bet and build the pot. You would want to do this if you have pretty much locked up the pot, or if you have a very big drawing hand such as the nut flush draw and a draw to a nut straight.
Check-raising is best used against aggressive players as they are more likely to bet out if everyone checks to them. If you are successful in check-raising aggressive players a few times, you may gain an added benefit of making them less likely to always attack.
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