Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sit N Go Strategy - Reasons For Checking!

Any SNG player (well poker players in general) knows there are a whole number of reasons for raising, most - if not all - poker books and strategy guides cover this subject. Well Plan3t Gong is the blog that likes to make you think... so today we can turn our thoughts to a slightly obscure area of Sit N Go Strategy - reasons for 'checking'.

(in no particular order!)

1) Pot Size Control. Sometimes you'll have a hand you are happy to play a big pot with... other times not - a top pair with kicker for example is often very vulnerable. If you do not want to build a big pot then you'll need to check at some point during the hand. This is especially useful when you have a big stack and are in a pot with another biggy - no point going to war when you can pick on the medium / small stacks instead!

2) To Take A Free Card. With position you can check to take a free card to make your draw. Works especially nicely if you bet the flop and missed your draw on the turn, now if you miss you have invested the minumum and if you hit (especially with a straight) you may find your opponent betting into you on the river.

3) To Induce A Bluff. So your opponent is known to usually call a flop bet... now checking on the turn might induce a nice bluff on the river from hands that might have folded if you continued to bet at the pot.

4) To Check-Raise / Slowplay.You know your opponent is aggressive and will keep firing at the pot, you check-called the flop when first to act... against the right opponent a check-raise on the turn can get more money into the pot. Make sure you pick the right players though... you do not want your opponent to check behind and take that free card when there are draws out there...

5) Co-operation Plays. When a short stack is all in and there is no side pot... checking down a hand can be mathematically beneficial to you. The increase in your equity from maximising the chances of knocking out an opponent are greater than the potential to win more chips. Make sure you know the math here though... there are many situations (when the bubble is not yet here) when a bet might be the better option.

6) To Prevent Yourself Becoming Easy To Read. Less common, especially at the low stakes, but if you always lead with strong hands and check weak ones you'll become exploitable by observant opponents. Mix up that play enough to put some doubt in their minds by occasionally checking when you would have bet and vice versa.

Any more? drop a comment to let me know! In the meantime... GL at the tables, Mark


KajaPoker said...

Mark, this one was a great post. I tried to think of other reasons but couldn't come up with any right now. said...

I like that you mentioned the coorperation play. I've seen many players bet into an empty pot, especially at the lower levels. It isn't ethical for players to opening discuss during the hand checking it down to eliminate a player. However, those that have been around for a while understand this is a standard move and support it, especially when close to the bubble or at the next pay level.