How to properly utilize checking in various poker scenarios. Checking is a part of poker strategy that is both undervalued and underutilized by poker players. That means that it's one of the single most important parts of poker for you to learn how to use well when you sit down to play, whether it's an online poker game or a big-money live event. However, since this is an online poker site, we're going to focus on the former.

With online poker becoming a more and more aggressive form of play, the check is a surprisingly effective way of measuring your opponents. It's almost instinctive for other players to dismiss a check and that means that you can exploit it for your benefit when you play.

We're going to break down the three primary reasons a player checks and that that means not just for them, but also for the table and the hand that you're playing.


Scenario One:  Bluffing

This is why many players check and it's a silly reason, but it is what it is. You'll see someone with a marginal hand out of position check just to see what happens next. They'll check while holding a hand like 8-3 unsuited.

This really isn't the way that a check should be used at all. The check is best utilized as part of a combination of moves with a preceding or subsequent bet. You'll see check-raising, for example, occur quite a lot with a certain level of player. Checking when you have nothing does nothing for your table image or the game. Around three-quarter of the hands that you're dealt in a poker game are going to be folded, either before or after the flop.

Choosing to fold whenever you're dealt those hands means that when you check, you're going to create a level of uncertainty in your opponents. This becomes doubly true when it comes to check-raises and check calls.


Scenario Two: Reconnaissance

This version of checking occurs post-flop and usually when there are more than two people in the hand. When you see other players check, it's generally because they didn't make anything with the first three community cards. This happens particularly often in online poker games and I recommend that you use this habit on the part of others to pillage their bankroll or kick them out of the hand. Check with a pliable hand and when the turn comes around, make a bet that they'll have to pay attention to, especially if the turn creates a situation where the flush or straight is in play.

This move puts others off their game by letting them know you don't just check with weak hands and that you're in the game to play the game.


Scenario Three: It's A TrapThis

One depends a lot on the texture of the table that you're playing at versus the individual players, if that makes any sense. If you're in early position at an aggressive table and you're playing with very aggressive opponents, you can make it easy for them to build a pile of chips that you can then scoop with the pocket rockets that you're holding. This works equally as well when you're playing at a tight table. Instead of playing big when you get a big hand, let them think you're playing a bit weak and slowly add chips to the pot before you bust out your hand on the turn or river. You shouldn't check because you want to see what's going to happen in a hand.