Checking in Poker

Checking in Poker

I think checking is one of the most important actions in a poker game. Almost everyone dismisses another player’s check. Keeping this in mind can be very helpful when playing. There are three reasons why someone checks.

- They don’t have anything

- They want to find out what others have

- They want to trap someone

Way too often it is only number 1, you simply check every time you have a bad or marginal hand. Checking is of course most powerful when used in combination with a preceding or a subsequent bet. Someone who an overwhelming majority of the time that check/folds, is losing out on using a check to their advantage. About 70 to 80 percent of all your hands during a game are hands you will fold, both pre or post flop (Unless you’re an aggressive player, all you Gus Hansen’s of the world). If you check and fold all these hands, any good player will know to simply leave you alone when you do something other then fold after a check. You have to mix up this majority with check/raises, and check/calls. Mixing up your checks in this manner requires bluffing.

Bluffing is an article all by itself but combining it with checking is extremely useful. We all want to slow play our monsters, checking the turn to trap the player and raise them after they bet. The problem with this, aside from getting that monster hand at the right time, is all players know about the check/raise. So use the check/raise in a bluff. Bluffing is hard enough to do, if you simply bet big in first position you might get your bluff called, almost every hand someone bets, so bluffing like that is simply about timing, hoping that particular hand you bluff that no one else has anything. But if you combine the bluff with a check/raise, this will have a greater effect on other players because it is less common.

Gathering info; the other purpose of the check is to try to find out what others have. This is very common after the flop. For example 3 or 4 people are still in the hand and the flop comes, and everyone checks. This is extremely common in online games, it is difficult “reading” players when playing online but a check can be very informative. It stands to reason (in a large majority of the cases) that they are checking because their hand is a bust. You check in first position and everyone checks, the turn comes, come out firing, unless the turn card drastically changes the community cards such as the fourth card of the same suit or an easy straight possibility, even if a player calls you or you get caught with another player check raising you, you’ve lost your bet, but you’ve gained two great advantages. You’ve shown the other players you don’t just check bad hands, and if you slow play a hand, other players won’t know.