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Check Raise - The Art of Check Raising

Check raising sucks – unless you're the one doing it.  Because if you're doing it, chances are you fall into one of the following categories:

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

There's just a little something evil about Check Raising.  On the one hand, you're acting shy and as if you don't have a hand, and then you're saying, "No, I was just kidding!  And you're so dumb you fell into my trap!"  That doesn't win too many friends at the poker table.

MAKING A STATEMENT

The statement of a Check Raise is basically "I have a good hand."  But it can also be a bluff that essentially makes the statement, "Don't think you can run over me!"

DON'T HATE ME BECAUSE I'M LUCKY

You're just out to make a little extra money.  Maybe you were even willing to let the hand slide and simply show off your good fortune in a gentlemanly way – until seat 6 tried to steal it.  Now you simply see a chance to improve your stack.  I mean, wouldn't anyone?

The fact is there's no right time or wrong time to Check Raise, and no right or wrong way.  Your opportunities to Check Raise are limited simply because you so rarely find yourself in a good enough position to do it.  First, you need a good hand.  Second, it needs to be well disguised – either because the board is nondescript at best or because you weren't betting much or at all before the Check Raise card came.  Third, someone actually needs to bet after your check to give you the opportunity to raise.  It's poker's equivalent of the perfect storm.

Certainly, as with all poker strategies, there are some pitfalls to be wary of.  The most obvious one is, unless you have the nuts, someone may in fact have a better hand than you do.  And if you Check Raise, you're essentially committing yourself to any re-raise, which could get very costly.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some players don't take too kindly to the Check Raise play.  It often causes the Check Raiser to be targeted.  While that may not be as sinister as some assassination plot, it can force you into some tough betting situations.

At the heart of Check Raising is the notion of whether betting rather than initially checking would make you more money than laying in wait to Check Raise.  That should be the ultimate question to ask yourself before you consider making the play.