Holdem Poker Strategy Check-Raising-Bet

Check & Raising Strategy

Because the characteristics of fixed-limit Hold'em makes calling one bet often correct for every weak hand, it's difficult to protect your hand. The main weapon you have to protect your hand is check-raising; however you should be careful of where you think the bettor will be. If you have a made (but vulnerable) hand, you would check in early position if you thought there would be a bet in late position. You raise and the players in between face two bets plus a risk of re-raise by the late position player, making it difficult for them to call. If you have an invulnerable hand that you want to make everyone pay you then you would check in an early position if you thought there would be an early position bet and then you would raise after everyone trailed in calling behind. The bottom line of check-raising is that you risk giving a free card if no one bets. The consideration of who the likely bettor will be is a very important concept when considering a check-raise, especially so in loose games.

Raising to Limit the Field

There is a misconception that a basic purpose of raising before the flop is to drive the other players out of the pot to limit the field. However, it is a wrong holdem poker strategy.

We haven't found a single text of Hold'em that doesn't suggest that you should raise with a hand like AA if your raise will cause others to fold. The idea they express is that if you can reduce the number of rivals, you will increase your chances of winning the pot.

That idea is right. Fewer rivals do mean you have greater chance of winning the pot. It is correct even if your hand is AA or 72. To reiterate, poker is not about winning pots but it is about winning money. With a very strong hand such asAA you will win more money when you have as many callers as you can get.


In several cases, aggressive poker player is a winning poker player. You should always apply pressure to the other players to give them tough decisions to make. You may re-raise when you think you are beaten badly or your rival is bluffing. Bluffing and semi-bluffing are important to keep yourself unpredictable, and because you are keeping track of the ranges of predictable hands, it is likely you will often know where your rival stands.

Cold bluffing is limited to the river; where you might bet into one or two rivals (who might fold) if you have no chance of winning the pot at a showdown. Semi-bluffing is betting with a hand that is not likely best but has some big outs. Your rival may fold immediately, if not, you may hit your out and your rival may clearly misread you. There is an important balance here. You should relatively tight hand selection criteria such that when you do bet your rival is positively worried that you may have a big hand like an overpair. Semi-bluffing is useful because you have been so cautious in choosing your starting hands that even if you aren't there yet, you are likely to get there.

Value Bets

"Value bet" is a term used for betting when you think you have the best hand, but the "best poker hand" is wider concept with a definition that's dependent on the situation.

Value Bets on the River
Once all the cards have been dealt, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all that matters now is who has finished up with the best hand. Even in this case, having the best hand is not a reason to bet. Suppose you have a small pair like A4 and the board is QT574.

It is possible to have the best hand maybe your rivals might have a KJ and have been drawing to a straight, for example. Even if you are 90 percent sure that's the hand he has, you shouldn't bet. The important question is not whether you have the best hand it is whether you have the best hand if he calls. If so, then a bet from your side would be a value bet.

Value Bets with the Best Hand on Intermediate Rounds
On the river, the main criteria about the hand is the likelihood that your rival has a worse hand than yours and will call (or a better hand and will fold). In the middle round of betting when there are more cards to come, it becomes more or less complicated. You have to consider not only the current strength of the hands but also the drawing power of both your hand and your rivals' hands.

Value Betting Draws
In Hold'em, it is common to have multi-way situations on the flop where the hand that is getting value from bets is the best draw not the best hand.
For example, in a four-handed situation the players hold
Player 1 KQ
Player 2 A9
Player 3 JJ
Player 4 T8

And the flop is 973.
Player 3 is having the best hand with a pair of Jacks but the only hand that will profit from a bet is player 1 the flush draw. Any Heart, King or Queen will make a player 1 the best hand. That's fourteen cards if we look at all the hands. With three callers, any hand that has a greater than 25 percent chance of developing into the winning hand will profit from a bet or raise. In this four-handed case, the flush draw with two overcards is the only hand that has a winning potential higher than 25 percent.
The winning potentials are
Player 1 45%
Player 2 18%
Player 3 20%
Player 4 17%

We shall discuss later in the theory of flop play section. But for now just realize that having the best hand does not mean you have the best hand. It means that the best poker hand on the flop is not always favored to end up the best poker hand by the river. The most important thing is that the best hand is not always favored to win the most money.

Continue : Starting Hand Value Theory