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Poker Theory

Check Raising

Slow playing and check raising are two ways of playing a strong hand weakly to corner your opponents and win more money from them. Still, they are not identical. Check raising is checking your hand with the purpose of raising on the same round after an opponent bets. Slowplaying is playing your hand in a way that presents your opponents no idea of its strength. It might be checking and then just calling an opponent who bets, or it may even equal calling a person who bets ahead of you. When you slowplay a hand, you are using deception to keep people in for a while in order to make your move in a later round. Obviously, then, a hand you slowplay has to be much stronger than a hand with which you check raise. Check raising can push opponents out and may even win the pot right there, while slowplaying gives opponents either a free card or a fairly cheap card.


There are some non-professional poker players who find something blameworthy about check raising. They find it devious and deceitful and regard people who use it to be less than well-bred. Well, check raising is tricky and it is fraudulent, but being devious and deceitful is precisely what one wants to be in a poker game, as is implied by the Fundamental Theorem of Poker.

Checking with the intent of raising is one way to do that. In a sense, check raising and slowplaying are clear opposites of bluffing, in which you play a weak hand strongly. If check raising and slowplaying were not allowed, the game of poker would lose just about as much as it would if bluffing and semi-bluffing were not permitted. In effect, the two types of play really complement one another, and a good player should be adept at both of them. The check raise is a great weapon. It is basically another tool with which a poker player practices his art. Not permitting check raising in your home game is something like not allowing, say, the hit and run in a baseball game or the option pass in a football game. Without it poker drops a significant portion of its strategy, which, apart from winning money, is what makes the game great fun. We ought to be more willing to congratulate an opponent for trapping us in a check raise than for drawing out on us on a call they shouldn't have made in the first place -- and if we are angry at anyone, it is at ourself for falling into the trap.

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