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GTO Poker Tips on Check-raising

Here’s a video highlight from my recent poker tips twitch stream where I dig into some check-raising tips for approximating GTO poker (without having to get too advanced).

More GTO Poker Tips Discussed in Video

When deciding whether or not to check-raise bluff, you should look for certain types of flop textures and hands that help you maximize your fold equity on the flop as well as the turn.

For example, you want to be raising with hands that will make your opponent fold hands that dominate you. In this particular video, I check-raise Q8 knowing that my opponent could easily be folding AQ and KQ on the flop to my check-raise.

Another good reason to check-raise flops is if you have a lot of turn cards that will allow you to continue bluffing. Gutshots are nice of course because they can turn open-ended straight draws or “double-gutters”. Also, backdoor flush draws can improve to a flush draw.

One more consideration is that ideally you want to structure your raising range such that just about any card that comes on the turn fits with some portion of your check-raising range. This makes you very dangerous to play against, when your opponent can’t really feel safe on any turn card. There’s always a chance you’re going to continue betting, and when you do, you often have it!

Of course some cards are going to be better for your opponent and his range. When this happens, you have to slow down, possibly dropping all bluffs.

Overall, using this technique moves us in the direction of proper balanced play which in turn gets us closer to approximating GTO poker.

Eventually you should learn the more advanced elements of GTO such as the use of Alpha and 1-Alpha, but if you’re just learning then I suggest a better approach. Find some better players that you trust, and emulate their style. This way you can feel more confident that you’re making the right plays, even if you haven’t fully grasped the theory behind them yet.

If you’re really interested in this GTO stuff, and would like to learn more, check out this strategy article I wrote recently: GTO Poker Strategy Made Easy – 3 Simple Techniques.

And as always, please do not hesitate to ask questions or offer your own advice in the comments below.

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4 Comments
  • brian- Coach @ PokerInABox
    July 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    hey. great video. i think having an aggressive check raising range works best when specifically vs the BTN, or CO. when opponents range is wide. something to keep in mind when trying plays like this. are you mostly trying to balance your 9Ts/bottom set with a hand like Q8s in a spot like this? presumably you’d flat top and middle set due to dryness?

    • Mike "fooz" Gano
      July 30, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Interesting observation about having an aggressive check-raising range when opponent is wide. By aggressive, you mean wide? If we assume it’s balanced, then I think we can have a wide check-raising range as long as we have a wide enough “nutty” range.

      Also, in this spot, I usually 3-bet TT, so I don’t have top set. 99 is closer. If I did have 99, I’d want to check-raise it. We have so many bluffs on this board that I want to find as many strong hands as I can to balance..

      • brian- Coach @ PokerInABox
        July 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        do you agree with making check raise sizes generally bigger than if we were raising IP? ie in this spot, making it around $22 total?
        id say our nutted hands here are 22/99/9To/9Ts
        we have a total of 15 combos after removal. I think we can have perhaps 1.5x that many bluffs in this spot.
        bluffs: Q8s(4), 78s(4), J8s(4), Q8o(12) = 24

        if we have a flatting range BB vs BTN of ~ 29% this would give us a flop check-raising range of 11.7% (39 / 332 combos, after removal)

  • Mike "fooz" Gano
    July 30, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Interesting observation about having an aggressive check-raising range when opponent is wide. By aggressive, you mean wide? If we assume it’s balanced, then I think we can have a wide check-raising range as long as we have a wide enough “nutty” range (i.e. stronger overall range vs. our opponent).
    Also, in this spot, I usually 3-bet TT, so I don’t have top set. 99 is closer. If I did have 99, I’d want to check-raise it. We have so many bluffs on this board that I want to find as many strong hands as I can to balance.

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