Friday, December 18, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concept 52

From No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

Concept No. 52: The play of check-raising to knock people out, an important tool in limit, should rarely be used in no limit.

I think this is true. Sometimes when I check-raise on the flop in no limit, I do so with the intention of knocking out some middle-position players, but this is almost never the primary objective of my check-raise. I will either have a very strong hand or a semi-bluff.

In limit, it's sometimes better to check with a low or medium pair, and then raise if a late position player bets. This play is very likely to force players who have overcards to your pair to fold, even if they may have called had you bet out instead of check-raising. If the late position player was betting without a pair, getting these players out substantially improves your chances of winning the pot. In limit poker, as we discussed in Concept 9, winning the pot is the main focus.

In no limit holdem, this play makes far less sense. Here, you don't need to count on someone to bet so that you can check-raise in order to confront them with two bets at once. If you want to deny a middle-position opponent the right odds to call, you can just bet more yourself right out of the gate. Also, in no limit, a check-raise tends to be much more expensive in relation to the pot. Defending a relatively small pot with a large bet should not generally be your main objective (concept 9 again). When you do want to knock out middle position players with your check raise, it's either because you are semi-bluffing with a small flush draw and you want possible bigger draws to fold, or you have a made hand and you want strong draws to fold. It's not like in limit where you are hoping to make players with overcards fold. In no limit, these players will already be folding to the original bet (unless the bet is unusually small), and you won't need to raise it.

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