Ah, the myriad strategic options facing the stout individual who chooses to venture into the world of no-limit Texas Holdem . If you are the type of player who thrives on the ability to choose from a vast storehouse of tactical maneuvers when sitting at the card table (and, let’s face it, we all fall into that category) then it’s only natural to assume that among your list of favorite games, Texas Holdem will occupy a position very close to the top.

Your weapon of choice

And when it comes to examining the many wily moves at your discretion, all of which can be used to totally dismantle an opponent’s stack of chips (not to mention his or her confidence) you have to really love the check-raise. Like all of Holdem’s key strategic ploys, this is one that can only achieve optimum deadliness when applied in the proper way at the proper time. If you fail to use the check-raise within the correct context of a no-limit Texas Holdem hand, then you’re really done no more than throw away a golden opportunity. Even more damaging, you may have opened a big window into your style of poker play, a window through which your opponent may glance with impunity and gather all kinds of information to use against you.

Honestly luring on to destruction

Therefore, it’s only reasonable to take a good serious look at what players refer to as the check-raise, in order to wield it with maximum efficiency. Stated in the simplest terms, the act of check-raising involves checking to your opponent with the intention of luring him or her to make a bet. This is done with a follow-up move in mind, which happens when you proceed to raise your opponent right back. What is the underlying strategy here? You are trying to lure another player into a false sense of security so that you can raise them and increase the pot. Remember, after one bet is committed, they are more likely to commit to two.

Basically, the check-raise is a way of stringing someone along, letting him or her feel that they have the stronger hand and are sitting pretty, while all along you are in control. Naturally you must be very discerning about which hands you choose to implement a check-raise. This tactic should never be confused with a bluff or a semi-bluff, in which you fully appreciate the weakness of your hand but seek to confuse the opponent into assuming otherwise. With the check-raise, there is not the same level of deception as with the bluff. Or, stated more accurately, this move entails deception of a different (some might even say more subtle) order.

It’s a good idea to get a general read on an opponent’s style of play before trying a check-raise. If you are matched up with a loose or aggressive player, you are in the best position to try this move because he or she will almost certainly bite. Against tight players, it’s a tougher gambit. Which is not to say you can’t be successful, only that you should proceed with due care.

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