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Poker Tips: Knowing When To Check

Aug 17, 2007
It is important in any poker game to understand the hand strengths and how they can work for you. Remember, however, that even though poker is a game of chance, there are many skills you can learn and continue to sharpen that will help you make decisions that will improve your game and may even help increase your odds.

Understanding the rules of poker is essential to playing a good game. Though the rules vary from one type of poker game to another, many of the concepts remain the same, i.e. a bad hand is a bad hand no matter which game you play.

Though the game of poker depends on odds, there are many techniques you can employ to help improve your game. Knowing when to fold, raise, and check are important to your success as a poker player.

In poker, the term "check" is referred to when a player calls the current bet of zero. The player will decline making a bet, which indicates that he or she does not wish to open, but would like to keep the cards and, therefore, retains the right to call or raise later in the same round if another player opens.

A player who has a live blind and chooses not to take advantage of his or her right to raise to check his or her option. This can be signified the same way.

There are different plays where a check may be used. One such play is called sandbagging. Otherwise known as "slow play", sandbagging is a deceptive play in poker that is roughly the opposite of bluffing: betting weakly with a strong holding rather than betting strongly with a weak one.

The check-raise is an example of such a play. This can involve a check or call with a hand you might otherwise raise with in order to lure other players into the pot who may be likely to fold to a raise or to try and encourage them to bet more strongly than they would if you had bet or raised.

Such a play can be very dangerous because it can sacrifice the protection a bet or raise would give you, while risking losing the pot-building value of a bet if your opponents check as well.

It can, however, be profitable to do this under certain circumstances that include the following three things.

If the hand you are playing is so strong protection isn't necessary, this play can work for you. Another situation where this might work is where an opponent is likely to bet when you do not. A third circumstance where this can be profitable for you is when opponents are likely to fold or call if you bet.
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