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Check-Raising on Draws




Today's edition of FullTiltPoker's Tips from the Pros features the wisdom of Steve Brecher. I, like many players, love playing little connecting cards from the blinds. However, staying aggressive with draws from early position can be a stack-killer when you get reraised. Brecher recommends a method of check-raising to build the pot, limit the weakness of your position, and to disguise your hand.
In No-Limit Hold 'em, drawing hands can be very difficult to play out of position. Most beginners take a straightforward approach when they flop something like a straight or a flush draw; they check, then call a bet and hope the turn brings something helpful. But, simply check-calling can present difficulties later in a hand. If you miss on the turn, you'll probably have to check and, oftentimes, end up facing a turn bet that is too large to call. Any bet of normal size in relation to the pot will be too large because the odds against hitting your hand are typically more than 4-to-1.

The problems don't end there. What happens if you check-call the flop, then hit your draw on the turn? If you check the turn, your opponent might very well check behind you, fearing that you hit. If you lead at the pot, you're pretty much announcing that you made your hand and your opponent might fold. So, even if you hit, you may not get paid in proportion to the risk you took by calling on a draw.

Rather than check-call, I often like to check-raise when I flop a draw out of position. This sort of situation comes up most frequently when playing from the blinds.

If he does call the check-raise, I can then make a decision on the turn. Sometimes I'll check and sometimes I'll lead out, regardless of whether I hit my draw. If I missed, I may continue the semi-bluff or I may check with the hope that my check-raise on the flop was sufficient to make my opponent nervous and get me a free river card. If I hit, I may choose to continue my aggressive play and put my opponent to a decision or, I may check, deceptively representing fear of my opponent's having the draw.
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