The game Texas hold’em is a great place for players to begin to specialize their poker skills. Whether playing a live or online game, there are countless techniques and playing styles that vary depending on the preferences and personality of the player. Once you become a little more comfortable with the routine of how Texas hold’em flows, you can start learning some of the more advanced skills. One of these techniques is called the check raise.
Basically, the check raise is a postflop play that can be used to hopefully add value to the pot. It consists of two steps; the check first time around, and then you follow that up with a raise after your opponent bets. This play is considered to be an aggressive move and lets your opponent know that you are not here to mess around, but you have the skills to win.
There are two different scenarios in which you use the check raise: to add value, or as a bluff.
Check Raise to Add Value
Should a situation present itself in which postflop you have a very strong hand that is likely better than your opponent’s, you could lead with a bet, or you could decide to employ the check raise. There are a few conditions that must be met in order for this route to be effective. The first is that you must have the stronger hand.
Secondly, you must be pretty confident that your opponent will bet if you check. This is key because if your great hand gets checked down with no additional chips going into the pot, then it was a waste of a good hand. To optimize value added to the pot you are going to need your opponent to bet following your check. As you analyze and get to know the style of whoever you are playing, decide whether or not you feel that this person will likely bet or not. If you have some doubt, it might be a wiser decision to pass on the check raise and stick to leading with a bet to promote value.
Of course, the last necessary condition is that you have to believe that the check raise will add more value than the bet. This belief will be developed as you play more and try out different methods with a variety of opponents. Even if this is not the method you hold to in every poker game, it might be a good tool to have up your sleeve to occasionally call upon when you want to shake it up or send a message to your opponent.
Check Raise as a Bluff
This scenario is much less common that the first, but can still provide good results when executed well. If you have reason to believe that your opponent’s hand is better than yours, you might want to use the check raise purely as a sign of intimidation. As mentioned earlier, this technique is taken to be an aggressive move, so if you shock your opponent with this tricky, bold move you will hopefully see a fold and win the pot.