Two time World Poker Tour has prepared a short guide, which can be really useful, especially for low stakes players. It's about going for a check-raise. Here's Jonathan Little:

Jonathan Little wrote on his blog that he often sees amaterus making a check-raise in the wrong spots. The general rule is that we should play a check-raise on the flop when we can get value from worse hands or make the better ones fold, when our marginal hand can do poorly on the next streets, usually because our opponent is too aggressive or board can change and typically not to our favour.

Instead of playing a check-raise for these reasons many amateurs decide for a check-raise, because they want to protect what they think is the best hand at a given moment.

An example

A tight, straightforward player decides for a raise for 3 big blinds. His effective stack is 50 big blinds. He is in the middle position and we check from the big blind with 98 suited. Flop comes 943 rainbow. We check, opponent bets four big blinds to a 6.5 big blind pot.

This is a terrible spot to make a check-raise, because if we make it and get called we will be practically only against a range which includes better hands. Even if our opponent calls only with top pairs and better hands our equity will be only 17%. Instead let's go for a check-call, as it will give us 62% equity against his range (we assume opponent will be c-betting 100% of such uncoordinated boards).

To check-raise profitably in this spot for value we need to expect the opponent to raise preflop with a very wide range and to be ready to go all-in with hands like A-J and 5-4 on 9-4-3 flop, which, let's face it, will never happen. Proper play here is a check-call, because having 62% equity in a small pot is much better than 17% equity in a big one.

Why do people play this way?

The reason why many amateurs decide for a check-raise in this spot is that they do not want to be “outdrawn” by overcards. They assume any overcard will drastically diminish the equity of their hand. Of course many such cards could help our opponent on the turn, but also a lot of them will not. If the rival has Q-J, then A, K and T will be of no help to him. A chance for an overcard is let's say 50/50. Even if it comes it will help your opponent also only in like half of the cases (provided he has overcards).

The key to success

If you want to win at poker then you need to feel comfortaby in a hand in which you do not know exactly where you stand with your hand. The need to know all is why some micro stakes players will never get to small and medium ones. Keeping your rival's range wide by check-calling the flop will lead to many turns and rivers. Many amateurs make a mistake of not getting there.

The article above is strongly based on the original content created by Jonathan Little. If you want to read the original text, please click this link.

SEE ALSO: Poker theories – Copernicus and Gresham's law