Check-raising strategy in poker
Sat 10 June 2017
Check-raising is a tactic that you won’t use much in an average, low limit game. It’s usually more profitable for you to stick to a solid, straightforward way of playing, especially when you’re a beginner. When the other players at the table are, on average, better than you, any attempt to get fancy will often backfire. Plus, you won’t always be able to count on someone else’s betting if you check with the intention of raising.
You can, however, put yourself in a position where you’ll have the best chance of pulling off a successful check-raise. I’m going to give you four similar, but separate, exercises to perform to teach you how to check-raise successfully.
You are to perform each of these exercises only when you are in early position and there are four or more players left to act behind you. You may decide for yourself what constitutes early position. You are to perform only one of the exercises for each time you play a regular-length session in your usual game. Your results will be easier to interpret if you do not mix these exercises together during the same playing session.
Again, only when you are in early position and there are four or more players to act behind you, you can try one of the following:
- Try for a check-raise on the flop when you believe you’ve flopped the best hand. I would say that for a hand to qualify as the best hand, it should be no worse than top pair with top kicker or a pocket overpair to the flop. Top two pair, a set, and any completed hand obviously all qualify as the best hand.
Do this for an entire playing session, and try to estimate how much more money you won by check-raising. When you get home and you’re completing your notes for the game, convert that amount into big bets per hour and mention it in your notes.
Try for a check-raise on the turn, observing the same criteria as you used on the flop, in Exercise 1. Again, estimate your extra win, convert it into big bets per hour, and add it to your notes.
Try for a check-raise on the flop, but only when you flop the nut four-flush draw, an open-end straight or what you believe is the probable best hand. When you’re in one of the blinds, you’ll often have nonstandard cards and be lucky enough to flop an unusual two pair or better. These hands count as probable best hands. Estimate your extra win, convert it to big bets per hour, and write it in your notes.
Follow the same guidelines as those in Exercise 3, but this time practice them on the turn instead of on the flop. Estimate your extra win, convert it to big bets per hour, and make it part of your notes.
If the only time you ever attempted to check-raise in the future was when you were in one of the four situations described above, you’d have very good results and your hourly rate would probably increase substantially. As you gain experience and become a more accomplished hold ‘em player, you can loosen up your check-raising requirements a little. Don’t be too loose, though; it doesn’t pay to play fancy. Stick with what you know best. Good luck.