Check, Fold, Raise: The Basic Moves in Poker

In this situation most players would be tempted to raise, as this is the best initial hand you can possibly get..

As most of you know, there are three basic actions in nearly any poker game: check, raise, and fold. “Check” means to pass your turn to the next player. “Raise” means that you will match a previous player’s bet and add additional chips to the pot. “Fold” means to surrender your hand to the dealer and sit out the rest of the round. Knowing when to choose these three actions is the foundation of any poker strategy.

For most players, checking is most effective when you are unsure if your hand is strong, and you wish to see what the players behind you will do. In other words, if you have a fairly weak hand, you may wish to check to the next player and discover if he/she has a strong enough hand to bet. Sometimes in a game that uses community cards, everybody at the table checks all the way to the last person. If you are that last person, you may want to check just to see the next card dealt without putting more money into the pot.

Raising is effective when you believe you have the best hand, and you wish to drive the other players out of the game. Each player must match what you raise, so if nobody matches your raise, you automatically win the pot. Of course, you can raise even if you don’t have the best hand in an attempt to force other players to fold. This strategy is called “bluffing.” If you are the last person to act in a particular round, and everyone ahead of you has checked, you may want to raise in an attempt to “buy” the pot by forcing everyone else to either fold or to match your raise.

Folding is the act of turning in your cards to the dealer. If a player that is acting before you raises a large amount, they are indicating that they have a strong hand. If you feel that your hand is not as strong, it may be wise to fold your cards and wait for the next deal. Many poker strategists argue that knowing when to fold is one of the more difficult aspects of the game. Many new players feel that once they have put chips into a pot they are committed to it. However, realizing that the best move may be to fold is the mark of a mature poker player.