Raising in No-Limit Holdem Cash Games
can be a powerful tactic in poker if used properly.
However it should only ever be used sparingly in limited
circumstances. There is usually not too much in No-Limit
Holdem that check-raising can accomplish where betting
out will fail. It is usually beneficial to bet out,
because it gives you more options to win the pot and
gives you more information on the other players involved
in the hand if they do happen to call or raise you.
However, this article will discuss the different strategic
benefits of check-raising in a number of different
definition of a check-raise is when you deliberately
check in the hope of a player in later position betting.
You may then raise this bet in the hope of accomplishing
a number of different objectives.
made the absolute nuts
you've made a hand on the flop that has made your
eyes pop out. I mean really hit the flop hard. This
doesn't mean you've hit a straight, or a small flush,
but I'm talking about flopping the nut full house
with KK on a K 2 2 board.
It's dangerous to attempt a check-raise with a flopped
straight, or small flush, because your hand cannot
improve any further and risking giving someone a free
card to improve on you is foolish.
a strong made hand like the full house, it is often
futile to bet, because it is highly unlikely that
anyone else has a hand to call you with. In this particular
case, you have the luxury of not caring whether anyone
bets or not, because you are quite happy to see the
turn card, hoping that someone may improve.
someone does bet, then you have the opportunity to
either check-raise, or flat call the bet and perhaps
attempt a check-raise on the turn, if you are fairly
certain he will bet again. Many better players will
be wary of your flat call however, which exhibits
quite a lot of strength and a check-raise on the flop
may be more likely to pocket you more money, because
they will query your move on the flop. Check-raising
on the flop may seem like you are trying to protect
your hand to them, and hence if they are holding a
strong king, they may call you off on the turn and
river, believing they may be good.
a smooth call on the flop will more than likely prompt
a check from them after you check again on the turn.
Now you will have lost an opportunity of winning your
check-raise bet on the flop, plus your bet on the
turn. So when you decide to slow play your monster
hand, be careful not to make it look too suspect,
because a good player can easily sense that something
a continuation bet
players will always fire off a continuation bet, regardless
of the flop. The type of player that likes to put
in this bet most of the time needs to be targeted
and check-raising them is the best stance to take.
In this case you are check-raising your opponent because
you do not think that he will fold if you simply bet
objective here is two-fold.
of all, these are easy pots to take off the aggressive
player, because you know that they have more than
likely missed the flop and will not show much resistance.
On occasion however, they will push back, but in this
case, you were merely making a play and folding should
not be too painful.
example, you limp in middle position with a pair of
sevens. An aggressive opponent puts in a modest raise
from the button. You call and the flop comes T 6 2
rainbow. While there is an overcard on the flop, you
cannot be too confident of your hand being the best.
However, because you know your opponent will bet nearly
every time, then the likelihood that he has a ten
is significantly lower regardless of whether he bets
if you bet into him here, there may be a chance he
will fold anyway. But a more aggressive player will
question the play, "why would he bet into me, when
he knows I will bet anyway?" Quite often you get raised
in this situation, even if the raiser is only holding
two overcards to the flop. However, you have no other
real option but to fold, because you really can't
be sure now whether he is making a play at you, or
is actually holding a hand.
you check-raise instead of betting out, you have now
put them into a difficult position. They will be far
less willing to re-raise your check-raise, because
that would be risking far too many chips with just
overcards. Plus they will be afraid that you have
a genuine hand in any case, because most players would
play a big hand this way against a player who always
puts in a continuation bet on the flop. If you are
called, or re-raised, then you can now be certain
that you are beat. Be especially careful if you have
been called, because the lure of trying to push them
off their hand by betting on the turn is very appealing.
However, the possibility that they are now slow playing
a monster is extremely real.
second objective is to try to keep the aggressive
players honest. You can't give these players free
reign to dominate the table by taking down every pot
they take a lead into. By occasionally check-raising
these players, you will eventually get them to slow
down with their continuation bets. This will allow
you more room to move in the future on this table.
is used habitually in Limit Holdem to thin the field,
in other words to get people to fold. However, it
is different in No-Limit Holdem, because you don't
have restrictions on the amount you can bet. Therefore
you can simply bet out a larger amount if you want
to reduce the number of players left in the pot. There
is an argument that a check-raise shows more strength
and thus will force more people to throw away their
marginal hands. However this is very situation specific
and perhaps only useful if you have many loose players
at your table that call on the flop too often.
flopping a big draw on the flop, where you have 14
or 15 outs to win the pot, it is often useful to use
a check-raise here to get yourself into a strong position
to either win the pot there and then, or be happy
to see the next two cards with all of your money in
the pot, because you are generally slightly ahead
in terms of odds. It is useful to check-raise because
one, you are masking your hand if they call
you and two, if you bet out and get called,
any move that is made on you on the turn will probably
get you to lay down your massive draw, because you
no longer have two cards to make you hand.
your check-raise is raised, then you are not scared
about pushing in over the top of him either, showing
incredible strength and forcing a tough decision on
your opponent. Check-raising with weaker draws is
not recommended unless you know you are up against
a weaker player, who will become more passive after
your show of strength, or if you are quite confident
that your opponent will fold.
check-raising may be dangerous
check-raise with marginal hands. Many players often
check-raise with a fairly marginal hand after the
flop. For example, after hitting something like top
pair with a nine kicker.
say you have called a small raise in middle position
with T9 of spades and the board comes 9 3 2 rainbow.
This is definitely not a good time to attempt a check-raise,
because many things can go wrong. If you check to
the raiser in this position and the raiser doesn't
bet, then there aren't that many cards on the turn
that you will be happy to see. Any card above a ten
and you may have let the raiser get ahead of you for
free. Any four, five or six and someone may have made
a fortunate straight.
fact is, you have also gained no additional information
from action on the flop. The turn card will more often
than not spell danger for you and it will be much
tougher to bet now, because you are still taking a
stab in the dark, but with less likelihood of taking
someone does bet and you do happen to check-raise
them, you have opened yourself up to being re-raised,
with only a marginal hand. If they call, then you
can nearly be certain you are beat unless you hit
a nine or ten on the turn. So unless you are certain
that they will muck their hand, don't try it. Note
that if you are certain they will muck, you can do
so with any hand, so there is no point in waiting
till you have made a marginal hand to do so.
out with a marginal hand is generally favoured, because
you should be happy if they fold and if they call
you, you can reassess the hand to see if they are
perhaps on a draw. If you happen to get raised and
you feel you are behind, you have only invested a
small bet and can fold without too much regret.
this example, we can outline a number of things to
look out for before you choose to check-raise.
certain that your opponent will bet
cannot effect the second component of a check-raise
if your opponent does not choose to bet! Not only
may you have missed an opportunity to get a bet out
of the players still involved in the hand, but you
have now also given everyone a free card. This is
exactly what you didn't want to happen in hoping to
check-raise and the whole strategy has blown up in
your face. What is even more significant is if the
free card improves your opponent to the point that
they now have a stronger hand than you. And the worst
result is if this player would have folded on the
flop had you bet!
example you have KK on a flop of Q 7 2 and you were
hoping to trap someone with AQ or KQ. Checks all around
and the turn is a 9, which looks innocent enough.
Letting a player with 99 make his set and possibly
take all your money is a cardinal sin, because they
would have most probably folded on the flop had you
bet out. Can your hand stand up to 3 bets? When check-raising
for value, we said how important it was for your hand
to be very strong. Because you are raising someone,
you are also giving them the opportunity to raise
again after you. Therefore, unless you have an extremely
strong hand, you will be forced to fold if they do
so. So be careful, if you wish to trap someone and
your objective is not for them to fold, because you
think you have the best hand, make sure you are willing
to call that extra re-raise.
risk of non-betting
I have suggested that you be certain that your
opponent is going to bet before you check-raise. Of
course is it never a certainty whether they
will decide to check or to bet. However, you can be
more assured of them betting if you take into consideration
a number of things.
players you target should be aggressive players that
generally play more hands and bet more often. Obvious
targets are players who love to put in continuation
number of players yet to act also has a bearing. If
you have five or six players yet to act after you,
then there is a pretty hefty chance that someone will
bet with a marginal hand, or even try and steal the
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