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When Not To Use The Check Raise

Check raising can be a significant weapon in your arsenal out of position, and definitely can be a good way to gain an extra bet from players who will fire out against checks too often. So to get a better idea of when not to use this, we will first look at what is going on when it does make sense to use this tactic.

A lot of players will typically check out of position, which is often a good idea against aggressive opponents who have position against us. Depending on the player, it may or may not be the best move, and we at least need to be open to the idea that there will be situations where leading out is better.

By checking though, we just don't want to give our opponents the idea that we are just ready to roll over and fold, and by mixing enough check raises in, we may both earn ourselves some free cards and end up either building pots when we want to or getting some extra money from our opponents when we end up folding them out.

For instance, an opponent may fold to our bet, but if we check to him, he may be willing to bet at the pot with a wide range. So we can either look to get him to abandon his plan by getting him to give up his air either now or later in the hand, or look to get more money in the pot at showdown with our real hands.

When not to check-raise?

So when do we want to look to refrain from check raising? Some people think it is against very loose aggressive opponents, but that's not necessarily true. This does mean that we'll be check raise bluffing less, as we're not going to get these players to give up their hands as easily, and they will often be coming after us with a raise of their own, causing us to abandon our bluff raises too often.

Against these players though, check raising for value may be even more profitable, and often we'll be able to use it to build bigger pots than with just check calling. However, if a player is willing to fire multiple barrels with air but will fold his air to aggression quite often, there may be more value in waiting until later in the hand to check raise.

This would allow us to check raise bluff more though. In order for this to work, we do need to have our check raises respected, meaning that the more often we do this the less weight our opponents will put on them. At the same time though we must be careful not to telegraph things too much, for instance just check raising when we have something.

As always, it really does come down to the type of player we're against, and in particular, now often he bets when checked to. The mistakes we're looking for him to be making is betting and folding with a better hand, or betting and not folding with a worse hand. So the mistake on our part is our check raising and folding a better hand, or check raising and not folding a worse one.

So if we keep the above in mind when we make our reads, we're going to be on the right track here. As always, the real key is to make sure we are playing our opponents and the board and not some pre-conceived notion of what frequency we should be check raising in general, which is the biggest mistake we can make here.


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