Beware of players check calling to your right

A lot of the skill of hand reading comes from rightly assigning an accurate range of your opponent based upon their posi...

Posted Aug 18, 2014

Contributor

Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

A lot of the skill of hand reading comes from rightly assigning an accurate range of your opponent based upon their position, bet sizing and action. Most of the time players will auto check to the preflop raiser after the flop so when someone check calls the preflop raiser little can be drawn from their action because the play is so common. However, after the preflop raiser has checked the action of the other players becomes extremely important when determining an accurate hand range.

Let us say that the preflop raiser was under the gun in a four handed pot. On a Q 4 8 board he decided to check, and the two players to his left also checked. The last player to act bets and the preflop raiser and the player to his right both fold. Now, the player to the bettor’s immediate right calls. This should set off some alarms if you are the field bettor in position. Usually if this player’s hand was strong enough to check-call he really should be strong enough to bet in his position. Let us go over the possible holdings that he could have. If he had a strong hand like top pair, second to last to act on such a draw heavy board, he would almost always bet. The same thing could be said about a semi bluff type of hand like a flush draw. The only hand that might check call here would be something like 99 or an 8 but again almost closing the action I expect him to bet for value and or protection. It would be different if he was up front and had naturally checked to the preflop raiser.

I would be very concerned here if I was the player to bet last to act in this situation. If I myself had a flush draw I would check back the turn with an extremely high frequency since combinations wise my opponent is less likely to have another flush draw and there is a high chance that he is slowplaying something. My spidey senses would also be up if I was betting a hand like QJ. You could bet-fold the turn for value and protection but there have been times where I have checked back the turn with this type of hand and even folded to a river bet when the draws brick out against the right type of non bluffing player. This sounds crazy to some but a check call from your immediate right in a multiway pot after the preflop raiser has shown a lack of interest is one of the strongest post flop cues you can observe in No Limit Holdem.

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