What is a check raise?
In poker a check raise is a play made where you check to your opponent to allow
him to bet and then when the action is back on you, you have the option to fold, call or
raise. When you decide to raise after checking to your opponent then this action is what's known as
a check raise.
Why do you check raise?
Generally in poker the check raise is a real show of strength and a move originally
designed to build a bigger pot when your opponent has a worse hand or to charge possible drawing hands to see future cards.
However the check raise has many other uses such as a bluff and semi bluff but as with any play in poker it should
be adjusted according to your opponents playing style.
Check raising as a bluff
Why would you check raise as a bluff? You may use this move when you're playing an opponent who you know likes to continuation
a lot whenever you show weakness (check to him). Now in a heads up poker match, both players miss the flop around 70% of the time so mathematically you know
that a large amount of his continuation bets are bluffs (he has no hand).
The check raise semi bluff
This is very similar to the check raise bluff although the major difference is that you are check raising with outs to improve to the best hand (this is also known as check raising with equity).
An example of a check raise with equity may be when you're holding a flush draw, straight draw or perhaps have a couple of over cards to the board with say a gut shot. Basically there are cards that can come on future streets to give you the best hand.
When not to check raise bluff
There are a few situations that are really bad for check raising as a bluff.
The first one is when you are playing in a match against a player that never folds (also known as a calling station). Against this kind of player the check raise bluff is never a great idea because these guys love to call when they have connected with the flop so you will very often bloat the pot with no hand and be out of position, all of which is no fun.
The second situation is when you're playing a really tight/ passive player that does not bet that often without a hand. So against this guy you would be check raising into what's known as a strong hand range when ideally you want your check raise bluffs to be against weaker hand ranges (remember the guys tat we assume do not have a hand that often as they bet all of the time).
On very wet (also known as connected and co-ordinated flops) when we have to outs (equity). If for example a flop comes down something like 7,8,9 and your opponent bets they can easily have some part of this kind of flop or at least a draw (any 6 or 9 has and up and down draw and any ten or 5 has a gut shot). For the very same reason that these flops are bad to bluff, they are great flops to raise for value (when you believe you have the best hand) because lots of pairs, draws and pair plus draws will call you.
When a check call is better than a check raise with a monster hand
Sometimes in a heads up poker match you will flop a really monster hand and your initial reaction will be to check raise. However on certain flop textures (types of flop) against certain player types (aggressive players) it will win you more money to check and call (also known as slow playing).
Now being good at poker isn't just about being able to hit hands and bet, bet, bet (although in a lot of situations that is exactly what you do want to be doing) but sometimes you need to play to your opponents style to let them make mistakes.
So imagine that you flop a really strong hand which in heads up can be top pair top kicker or two pair plus. The flop the comes down is very safe looking (non drawy, non co-ordinated) such as 2,7,Q and you have 77. On this flop you may think "yes I'm going to check raise and win the game" but if you stop for a moment and think it through, it's very hard for your opponent to have much of a hand to call with in this situation.
So we can check and let our aggressive opponent bet (probably as a bluff because he has nothing a lot) then we can check the turn and probably then check raise the river (assuming he hasn't already put all of his chips in the middle). This gives our very aggressive opponent a chance to bluff off lots of chips that he otherwise may of folded to a check raise on the flop.