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The Ethics of Check-Raising

There are some amateur poker players who find something reprehensible about check-raising. They find it devious and deceitful and consider people who use it to be less than well-bred. Well, check-raising is devious and it is deceitful, but being devious and deceitful is precisely what one wants to be in a poker games, as is implied by the Fundamental Theorem of Online Poker Games.

Checking with the intention of raising is one way to do that. In a sense, check-raising and slow playing are the opposites of bluffing, in which you play a weak hand strongly. If check-raising and slow playing were not permitted, the games of poker would lose just about as much as it would if bluffing and semi-bluffing were not permitted. Indeed the two types of play complement one another, and a good player should be adept at both of them. The check-raise is a powerful weapon. It is simply another tool with which a poker player practices his art. Not allowing check-raising in your home games is something like not allowing, say, the hit and run in a baseball games or the option pass in a football games. Without it poker loses a significant portion of its strategy, which, apart from winning money, is what makes the games fun. I'm much more willing to congratulate an opponent for trapping me in a check-raise than for drawing out on me on a call he shouldn't have made in the first place - and if I am angry at anyone, it is at myself for falling into the trap.

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