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Poker Check

2023 Feb 17 6 min read
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Checking in poker carries several options, however, it isn’t a betting action you should take lightly, and it can be considered a form of weakness.

In this guide, we will run through when to check in a betting round during a live poker game, and how you can use it to win more money at the table.


A check means the action will pass over to the player on the left, and therefore you won’t be required to make a wager. When a bet has been made on the current street, then the options will be to call, raise, or fold. Checking won’t be an option, because you will always have to try and match a bet made on the current street.

An example of how a check might be used in a sentence, may be as follows: “I checked the flop and my opponent checked back.”


Checking will make the most sense when you intend to keep the pot small as opposed to topping up the pot. Therefore, checking can be used to deceive or mislead with a strong hand. This can infuriate others at the table as it is also called slow playing.

It may also be said that checking may be used more frequently or applied in a scenario when you bet out of position, and facing an opponent who took an aggressive action on their next card.

While it might not always be strategically correct to check on the table with a particular hand at the showdown, if you can act decisively, then it will stand you in good stead for the later betting rounds, such as the flop.


Players will only be able to check when there is no bet made in the current round. The act of checking, therefore, passes clockwise to the next person with the hand. Tapping the table twice is a universally accepted way to signal to those playing that you intend to check.

Also, tapping the table twice will alert the dealer who will then confirm whether you wish to check in the game.


While you may want to check raise the flop when you can extract value from inferior hands or when your marginal value plays poorly on future betting rounds, you should never check on a big blind as a way to bluff your opponents.

In this instance, making a check here can construe a sign of weaknesses and it assumes you don’t know how to play your hand. Or you could check out of turn where you tried to check even though it wasn’t your turn to act. Sometimes, this can be viewed as angle shooting, so it is suggested you avoid acting out of turn in the game to keep other players on side.

Or you may consider a check in the dark. Here, you will be pre-emptively checking and hoping to see things fall in place without waiting around. This type of checking might be carried out on the big blind before the dealer has distributed at the flop.

However, there is no strategic advantage or value attached for a player in this position to make this move as it can confuse our opponents. At this point, you should be very careful as you don’t want to assume anything.

Checking generally is seen as a sign of weakness apart from one exception when a player finds themselves out of position on the board. The intent here is to trap their opponents on the later streets.


As mentioned, the best way to carry out checking is by tapping the table twice using your fingers. Some amateurs may wish to check raise, so they can protect their hand against a big blind from other players who may wish to crank up their betting a notch or two.

By check raising on the flop, some players are worried they may lose as they may risk being outdrawn by various overcards. Ultimately, it depends on the cards you hold and you need to be confident about when to check rather than waiting around to see how the action unfolds.


Here we present when it is best to check in poker:


The primary reason for checking is when you have a bad hand or if it is not strong enough to place any bets. So, for example, you could be holding 5 and 6, and the flop comes against 5-K-J, which won’t be a strong hand to act with.

So, if you are first on the flop, it would be a risk to play into the hands of another player on the board. Instead, you should check in on this position and tap to fold should the possibility arise.


If you want to remain in a strong position from the flop to the river, you may pass on the option to bet more money, and leave the next player to make a decision. We will also get some more information on their hand before it is our turn. You may therefore be able to assume that they don’t have a terrific hand.

You may also be free to conclude that they don’t have a terrible hand, otherwise, they wouldn’t have hesitated to make a bluff and hit. If you’re not careful, you may fall into an unnecessary trap.


Previously, the notion of a check raised was deemed to be an illegal move as it was considered to be bad etiquette when placing a bet. However, times have moved on, and the check raise is now considered to be a powerful tool for many players. By checking and allowing your opponent to bet before raising yourself, you will be able to make multiple bets on one street against an opponent who may only have bet if you bet yourself.


Similar to check raising, you may want to feign weakness in the hope that you can thwart an aggressive player and slow down a monster hand at the showdown. Against these players, you may not want to raise right away with a bet, as there will be a chance you can bluff them down the river. You will notice that many players won’t like to bluff hands over multiple streets, so you must know a player well enough to establish what type of risk they might make.


Here we present when not to check in poker:


If you have a quality hand or a monster hand, you shouldn’t check. This is a common mistake made by players who check in a hand when they have a top pair. Aside from losing value by checking the top player with your hand, you will also get sucked into situations you don’t want to be in, and ultimately, tap out.


When it is your turn to act, you won’t want to hit with a monster hand by the time you get to the river. The goal of the game is to act decisively, and extract as much money from the pot as possible. You need to be confident with your bet and the hand you have, whether it is a flush or a straight.

If you have a flush, then bet as much as possible until the next player makes a call.


There is a distinct difference between checking and calls in poker, and players should not get confused. Checking is the deferral of action to another player, whereas, with calls, you must match the bet made by your opponent unless the bet exceeds your remaining stack, and in this case, you will be free to stump up as much money as possible in the hope that you will win more from the pot.


Let’s now run through a few examples of strategies that you can incorporate when it comes to checking:

  1. Fold when you are unsure – Calling too often is one of the fastest ways to come out worse off in poker. While we won’t get our hands on the pot if we fold or check, it is always best to fold if you are unsure.
  2. Semi-bluff aggressively – Let your cards dictate whether you should bluff or not. If you are confident with your cards, then make sure you have the best hand which could be a straight, to beat other players later on.
  3. Defend the big blind – The blind can be a special position when you come to bet. A good example of when not to raise would be if you have been dealt a trashy hand, such as a 9 or 5, but instead, you should use the straight or a better hand to free yourself, and secure more from the pot.


Checking can be a high-risk high-reward strategy when you bet. However, if you can act efficiently and calmly with the hand available, then you will be able to beat the other players table and avoid falling into an unnecessary trap.

Rather than hoping for things to turn your way, you should apply the techniques we have suggested in our guide when you bet, so you can take more from the pot in the future. This means being able to know when to hit or fold on your next card, so that you can keep yourself in position.