Two very powerful weapons that you should learn how to use in your poker games are check/raise and all-in. Each of them can win you substantial pots when used correctly, but equally can be very dangerous to you if used at the wrong time or in the wrong way.
The check/raise is used to send a signal to the other players that you have a hand which is better than theirs. It’s a fairly subtle move and can be lost on a lot of poorer poker players and novices so for that reason it should only be used when playing at a table where your opponents are savvy enough to realize what you’re doing.
A check/raise is really just what it says, you check when it’s your turn and tempt an opponent into making a bet, then you raise his bet. Smarter poker players will recognize what you’ve done and will normally fold to you unless they think you’re bluffing or they have a very good hand.
When you can use this tactic with a fair degree of certainty that your opponents will spot it, you can win some considerable pots; especially when there is more than one player calling the bet. By using the check/raise you are declaring to the table that you think you’ve got the best hand and most often you will be able to get the rest of the table to fold to you.
As well as using this move when you do have a great hand, it’s also a very powerful bluffing strategy as good players are extremely wary of calling a check/raise.
An all-in bet is similar to a check/raise in one respect, in that you can use it to get your opponents to fold. If you do go all-in, your opponents have to have a very good hand to be able to call your bet and most times they will simply fold.
However you must be aware of positioning when you go all-in. If the person who will be last to call has either a very small stack or a very big stack, and everyone else has folded, they might well decide to call your bet as they will then be in a heads-up situation. This can be bad news for you because they can call with almost anything and trust to their luck with the cards on the table.
When considering whether or not to use an all-in, bear this simple rule in mind; it’s always much easier to make an all-in bet than to call one. If you make the all-in bet you are declaring to the table that you have the best hand so it’s very difficult for somebody to call that bet unless they do have a winning hand.