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Check-Raising and Position

When you plan to check-raise with several players still in the pot, you need to consider the position of the player you expect will bet because that position determines the kind of hand you check-raise with, to a large extent. Let's say you have made hidden kings up on fifth street, and the player representing queens is to your right. Kings up is a fairly good hand but not a great hand, and you'd like to get everybody out so they don't draw out on your two pair. You check, and when the player with queens bets, you raise. You are forcing everyone else in the hand to call a double bet, the original bet and your immediate raise, and they will almost certainly fold. You don't mind the queens calling your raise, for you're a big favorite over that player. However, if he folds, that's fine too.

Now we'll place the player representing queens to your left instead of to your right. In this case you should bet with kings up even though you know the player with queens will bet if you check and even though you think you have the best hand. When you bet in this spot, you are hoping the queens will raise so that the double bet will drive out the other players in the pot, just as your check-raise was meant to do in the other instance. And if that opponent does raise, you can now reraise.

Suppose that instead of kings up, the king on fifth street gives you three kings. Now you are much stronger than you were with two pair, and your hand can tolerate callers. Therefore, you would use the opposite strategy you employed with kings up. With the probable bettor to your right, you should bet, and after everyone calls, you hope that bettor raises so that people will be calling a single bet twice (which they are much more likely to do than to call a double bet once). On the other hand, if the probable bettor is to your left, then you check the three kings, and after that player bets and everyone calls, you raise. Once again, you are inviting your opponents to call a single bet twice and not a double bet once.

To remember, the way you bet or check-raise depends on the strength of your hand in relation to what you can see of the other hands and the position of the player you expect to bet or raise behind you when you check or bet. With a fairly good hand, like kings up or aces up in seven stud, you try to make opponents call a double bet because you'd like to drive them out. With a very good hand like three kings or three aces you play to induce your opponents to call a single bet; then you confront them with having to call another single bet. In this case, you don't mind their staying in since you're a big favorite over them.

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