Thursday, October 22, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concept 21

Here's my analysis of the next concept from No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

Concept No. 21: Sometimes you can try for a deep check-raise with the nuts (or close to it).

By "deep" the authors mean that you are in middle-late position in a large field. I have seen it recommended that you not try a check-raise in such a situation, because some of the reasons for a check-raise are diminished in a large field, while the risk of being outdrawn is greatly increased. Still, I think Sklansky and Miller are right about this, and I would actually say you often should try for a deep check-raise with the nuts. It's very difficult to do a proper EV analysis of this situation, but here's my subjective opinion, for what it's worth.

In a small field, check-raising with a strong hand is standard (although there are situations where you would want to bet out even with the nuts). One reason for this is that a late position player is more likely to bet behind you if he is facing a small field. It's very common for the player in last position to bet if the first player or two check, because he will often be able to take the pot with a bet in this situation. A second reason is that the downside risk of checking is not as great when there is a small field; even if nobody bets on the flop, it's very unlikely that anyone will outdraw you, because you only have one or two opponents. A third reason to check-raise with strong hands when there is a small field is that it disguises your checks when you miss a flop. If your opponent knows you might check-raise, he'll be slightly more likely to check the flop and let you see the turn for free.

These reasons for check-raising do not hold up as well when you are in middle-late position in a large field. You need a stronger hand to check-raise in this situation. Still, with hands that are nearly the nuts, I think it's often correct to try it. A flopped set or straight is only a little vulnerable to being outdrawn, and the reward for a successful check-raise can be quite huge if there are multiple callers. If nobody bets, often another player will make two pair or three of a kind on the turn, which is likely to result in a very big win.

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