The Check-Raise in No Limit Holdem

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The Check Raise No Limit Hold’em

Lots of opportunities present themselves to out-wit your opponent, and the check-raise bluff is one of the best examples.  This is when you check a hand to feign weakness, wait for your opponent to raise, and then hit back at your opponent with a re-raise.

Example of Check-Raise: Playing Heads Up poker cash game $1/$2.  I raise pre-flop on the BB 55 against an extremely loose opponent (who cbets most flops).  I get flat-called and the flop comes Ad-10s-5h.  Being first to act and having hit my set, I check to my opponent. He then makes a standard half-pot cbet and I re-raise him twice the amount. 

Why Should You Check-Raise in NL Holdem?

Against loose opponents, check-raising gives greater value from your big hands.  This is because with a well-timed check-raise you’re effectively raising the pot with two bets in a single street, in contrast to building the pot with one bet (i.e. betting first-act-out and getting called).

Normally you have 2 possible objectives when check-raising.  The first is that you win the pot immediately and force your opponent to fold; the second is that you slowly build the pot up with the intent to take it down later.

Factors for Check-Raising

Importantly your opponent needs to have the right sort of table image for this to be successful.  In general terms your opponent(s) needs to be a regular LAG who regularly steals pots or cbets flopsopponents on unraised boards.

You also need to have the right stack size, including both you and your opponent.  A deep stack opponent with over 100BBs will find it easier to fold to a check-raise because they’ve got enough behind them to exit the pot without a fuss.  Small-average stacks on the otherhand are the best opponents to check-raise because often they’ll become pot-committed, especially later down the line on the turn or river.

Finally, you need to make sure you’re betting the right amount when you check-raise.  A common mistake is to bet too little.  When this happens you might still be giving your opponent good pot-odds to draw which is bad for you because you’ll end up losing these pots in the long-run.  A normal-sized check-raise on the flop, turn and river is twice what your opponent raised

Reasons Not to Check-Raise

In addition to the above information, you have to be very careful when deciding to check-raise your opponent.  If you do this too early in a hand then it’s extremely unlikely you’ll get paid off in later streets i.e. you’ve shown such a strong hand that he’s not going to be calling you next street unless he drastically improves his hand.

This is why I recommend only check-raising on the turn or river if you hit a monster on the flop.  If you’ve got an unbeatable hand, it’s completely pointless giving your strength away too early.  In fact, on a board where you flop a monster like full house for example, you should be check ing the flop to give your opponent a chance to catch up and hit something later – this is known as “float play”.  You don’t necessarily want your opponent to raise here, you just want to help him catch something and keep him in the game so that there’s a chance he might pay you off later.

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