In spite of the fact that check raise is a paramount move in no limit Hold’em poker, many players and especially beginners only utilize it when they actually have a very good hand. However, considering that reading the opponent is a mandatory skill for high stakes poker, it is easy to understand why this strategy will not work for too long. To put it simply, if you don’t adapt your play style according to the table, your moves will be easy to guess and hence, the chances of getting the maximum from the check raise drop considerably. Let’s summarize the main situations when a check raise could turn the balance in your favor.
1. Obtaining maximum value
In all fairness, the most common motivation for employing a check raise is for value. As mentioned in the beginning of the article, most players will opt for a turn or a flop check raise when they hold a valuable set for instance and are hoping to get all their cash in.
Well not bluffing per se, but some type of semi-bluffing. Essentially, if you hold an open end straight draw or a nut flush draw, then using a check raise could increase your chances of winning the pot, without having to show your cards. In the eventuality that you do get called, let’s not forget that there is a high possibility to hit your draw and hence, win an even higher pot. Alternatively, you could choose to push the turn if you happen to miss and continue to play as if you were holding an excellent hand.
3. Trapping other players
A further noteworthy situation to use the check raise is when the opportunity to play a multi-way pot arises at the table. However, it is necessary to mention that in order to trap the other poker players with this move you will need a big draw from early positions. Since this circumstance features a lot of action at the table, the pot is going to get very substantial.
4. Eliminating weak players
If you have some experience playing poker, then you probably noticed that there are many conservative or tight players out there. Perhaps their biggest setback stems from the fact that they fear the check raise and will never engage in such moves, unless of course they have a monster hand. These poker players are great for earning extra pots. Just remember to use the check raise with moderation and know when to stop.
5. Keeping other players in line
Typically, when you have a pre-flop raiser at the table who bets over you each time, he could cause you a bit of a headache especially if you repeatedly get the wrong cards. On the other hand, if you would use the check raise a couple of times then you could easily discourage him and slow him down. On a side note, in order for this strategy to be successful you should employ the move on low connected flops or low boards that he has most probably missed.