Betting - to Check
A player will be said to 'check' when he wants to remain in the pot and offers no raise to the pot with no bet made before action gets to him/her (if there is a bet made, a player would need to call, raise or fold). The action is often signified by a tap on the table or by saying 'check'.
To win a pot you will either need to bluff players out of the pot or win with the best hand, assuming it goes to showdown. There's many reasons why a player might not want to bet. First of all, a player might want to see what the table does first, possibly setting a trap if they have a made hand. It might be the player wants to see the next card on the cheap. Either way, a player has the choice.
For example, you hold pocket 5's and you are playing a short handed game. You are second to act and after the flop, player one checks. As you have missed hitting a 5 on the flop and you have 3 over cards, prospects look bleak for this hand. You really don't want to commit too much to the pot, if anything as there are still 4 players to play behind you. You would therefore want to pass the action to the next player without making a bet. By saying 'check' to the dealer, or by tapping (or double tapping) the table.
Checking is a sign of weakness but holds great power in disguising a quality hand. In games, players will frequently hit a good hand and check in the hope that another player will see weakness and take a stab at the pot. After an initial attempt at the pot, many players will often feel obliged to commit more simply due to the size of pot. There's often more money to be made this way, especially if you're up against some aggressive numbers.
In contrast, lets assume that you play your pocket 5's again and this time you hit the flop. There are 2 over cards, which means one of the other players might have caught a piece of the action. You're still second to act. You raise, and everyone else folds. Now it depends on how aggressive the players at the table are. If you had checked, would another player have bet out? You'll never really know. If you have an aggressive player at the table, you might want to give them a little rope and let them do what they do best. It also gives them time to improve their hand. At this point, it will be more difficult to lay down. Often players will try to hero bet two or three streets with nothing.
It is important to remember that even if you have a really bad hand and no prospect of improving, if there's no bet, you should not fold as you may get to see a free card by checking the hand.
Reasons you might want to Check your hand
1) When you do not have a strong enough hand to post a bet.
2) To trap. When you want to look weak by disguising your hand.
3) To see what your opponents 'behind you' are going to do first before deciding how to play.
4) When you think your beat and are not going to get your opponent(s) off their hand.
Important Beginners Guides..
Read this no nonsense guide on how to play poker - covering the basics and game play. Perfect for those starting out.
A no nonsense guide on how to play poker. Ideal for beginners looking to learn how to play Texas Hold'em.
Check out this set of rules. It's as close to universal as you will get! Most card rooms use a variation of these.
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