The Art Of Checking

In poker, the bluff is a huge move. Some people love to do it, and some people hate getting bluffed, and will almost refuse to, which leads to a player melting down all together. But are there situations where you do not want to bluff or semi-bluff and just check or call? Contrary to the new school hyper aggressive approach, yes, there are. At the low stakes’ tables, if you are drawing to a straight and can take a free card, go ahead and take it once in a while. I know it seems crazy, but this is low limit specific, where hands are not often going to be folded. When someone is playing there top two pair on the flop, they probably are wanting to check raise you, so they check, you fire a semi bluff bet with second pair, and they come over the top big…. now what? You just wasted money betting just to bet. Instead of betting, getting called, or raised, or the worst case winning a tiny pot, try checking and seeing if you can make your hand.

This is when you are going to get paid off. If you hit your draw on the turn and your opponent at the table was going to check raise you, you are now going to get paid off big time. You will get paid much more in this situation than you would have by taking down a small pot by semi-bluffing. This works extremely well after you have established an image of possibly semi bluffing your way to win some small pots, then when you take your free card and hit, the opponent will assume you are again bluffing, and bingo, ship it. Semi bluffing is great when the pot is big, you have a huge draw and enough of a stack to make a big bet to induce a fold.

If your semi-bluff with a pot sized bet or more, and it gets popped to 3x, what are you going to do? You will probably have to fold. If you have a big draw that hits you will win, but you have to make a call based on what may happen, and will need the odds to do so. If you check in the same situation, you save your money on the flop, and more or less anything that comes on the turn, is going to induce your opponent to bet into you and take down the pot. When you hit your draw after checking, the pot is now in your control and you may get a little creative to extract the most out of the hand. If a player wants to check raise you on the flop, but you don’t allow them to, they will almost always bet out at you on the turn. These people are also not going to lay down their hand, which means you are going to get paid off. Checking the flop allows you a few more opportunities to get creative in a hand, and in the long run, when used in certain situations is a very profitable play. This does not take the place of a bluff; it is just another tool to add to your poker arsenal.