When Is It OK To Check And Call?

When Is It OK To Check And Call?
By Aaron Hendrix

Sometimes it is ok to check and call or just call in a no limit hold em tournament. Most of the times it's not, but there are times, usually against loose aggressive players who like to make small bets to check and call as raising will generally lead to either being re-raised or generating a fold. By just checking and calling against this type of poker player, they continue to put money into the pot at small increments and give you the correct odds to draw to your hand or to win the pot even though you only have a marginal hand.

You must be able to recognize the poker player that is doing this, however, otherwise checking and calling will bleed chips from your stack. Generally, I don't like this play because it shows weakness and you never are able to figure out your opponent's hand, but if you know your opponent is the type of player who will bet the minimum regardless and the pot is big enough to warrant a call, then go ahead and do it.

Let me illustrate with an example:

The blinds are 200/400 with a 50 ante. The hero in the hand starts with 31,000 in chips. The villain has 38,000 and has shown a tendency to make numerous small bets. It is folded to the villain in the small blind who completes. The hero is in the big blind and checks his option with A-6 off suit. The flop comes Q-6-5 with two spades. The villain bets the minimum (400) and the hero calls. The turn is the 8 of spades. The villain again bets the minimum and once again the hero calls. The river is the 10 of clubs. One last time, the villain bets the minimum and yet again the hero calls. The villain turns over J-5 off suit for bottom pair and loses the pot.

Yes, there are a lot of hands that would beat the hero's hand here. The hero, however, only has to call 400 on the river to win 3,300 or 8:1 on their money. It would be wrong to fold here when you are getting this kind of price in relation to the pot size. It would also be wrong to raise on the turn or river because then you give your opponent the ability to re-raise you and make you fold. By just checking and calling in this situation, you give yourself the ability to do one of two things. Win the pot with the best hand or lose a small pot while still seeing a show down. If your opponent has showed the capability of making small bets with bluffs or weak hands, it's much better to check and call and give yourself the opportunity to pick up these easy, small pots.

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