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Do You Check-Raise In These Perfect Spots?

Check-raising has become a mainstay of aggressive poker strategy. Feigning weakness with a check and then responding to a bet with a raise puts the bettor under massive pressure. It can be a great way to get value from a good hand or force a better hand to fold with a bluff.

But it wasn’t always such a popular technique. In fact, in the early days of poker, check-raising was considered disrespectful. People thought it was so rude that some casinos, saloons, and gambling halls even went so far as to ban the play altogether.

These days it’s a common deceptive play, and knowing how to use it properly can give you a massive edge.

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Image: iStock

These are three spots that are perfect for check-raising.

1) When someone always continuation bets

There are some players who think they always have to bet the flop if they raised pre-flop. These continuation bettors usually use a small bet sizing, and their predictability makes them easy to counter.

On boards where their range connects well, such as high cards when they’re in early position, use a large check-raise to put them in a tough spot with all of their non-premium hands. They won’t be able to call unless they have a hand, and then you’ll know to get out of the way if your cards can’t match up.

On the other hand, there are boards where their range connects poorly. In this situation, it’s better to use a small check-raise because they’ll still have a hard time defending against even a small raise.

When you win these small pots over and over again, you’ll win tons of chips.

2) Attack weak bet sizes

Many weak players use a bet size that broadcasts their hand strength. For instance, they may always bet small when they have a marginal hand or always bet large when they have a monster.

Punish these sizing tells by utilizing check-raises.

You may be holding air, but if you can tell that someone is holding a hand that isn’t great because they bet small, you can force them to fold with a check raise.

For instance, many small stakes players will make a small bet on the river with thin value. Punish them by going over the top with a huge check-raise, and you’ll find yourself scooping up more pots.

3) Check-raise on boards that are great for you

When people put money in the pot on boards where you can have monster hands and they can’t, punish them with aggression.

One way to do this is by focusing on off-suit combos. If you can have off-suit nutted hands in your range and your opponent can’t, then your aggression becomes that much more believable.

Forcing those folds is all about making a credible threat.

Remember to size your aggression in the same manner that you would with value hands so that the story makes sense.

Even if your hand is mediocre at best, knowing that a board is great for your range lets you amp up the aggression and deploy more check-raises.


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