Check raising from blinds

People at small stakes live no limit games fall into a lot of predictable patterns. One of the most common is the propen...

Posted May 30, 2012


Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

People at small stakes live no limit games fall into a lot of predictable patterns. One of the most common is the propensity for them to check-raise two pair out of the blinds in limped pots. There are a number of reasons why I believe this to be a weak play. We will use the following hand as an example. Say it gets limped around five ways and we check J4os in the big blind.

The flop comes out J 7 4 . We check and the under-the-gun bets out $15 into $25. One player in the field calls. It gets back to us and we check-raise to $100. The under-the-gun better quickly folds and the cut off tanks for a bit shows KJ and also folds. Is what just happened really a good thing? We did win the pot and we avoided some difficult decisions later on if the draws had come in. However, we have gotten an opponent whom we could have extracted multiple streets of value to fold.

I have mentioned the adage “way ahead way behind” in some of my previous columns. You never want, in no-limit holdem, to make such an aggressive action or bet where you get everything that is weaker than your hand to fold and only better to continue on. This is one of if not the MOST important concept in no-limit holdem and people make bets that break this rule all of the time. I go into a detailed explanation of this in my latest free episode of Deuce Plays titled “Deuce Plays Premium Why So Much?” By checking raising with two pair out of the blinds often time you will get weaker top pair types of hands to fold and only better hands to continue on. A better line would be to come out and bet from the blinds with these types of holdings and get a hand like KJ to call. You then build a pot up and can extract even more value from weaker on subsequent streets.

Obviously, there are some hands that you can get value from by check-raising two pair like draws. However people at the lower levels seem to size their check-raises too large. They want to “protect” their hands from the draws instead of trying to extract value from them. You actually want the draws to call you so long as you do not pay them off later on in the hand if they complete.

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