When did the check raise become a personal attack? I’ve noticed that many players have forgotten that this is a strategic move in poker. Instead they have become so wrapped up in the fact that a "friend" at the table has check raised them that it becomes forgotten that the person is a) trying to protect their hand or b) trying to bluff. This essentially means that some have forgotten that they are at the table to make money and win.

The intention is not generally personal. Many will choose this move to try to eliminate or minimize the playing field or to get a "free" card on the turn or river . In the other situation, a player with the best hand (and typically in the correct position) will check raise in order to maximize the value of the hand in the attempt to build a big pot.

Both of these situations represent a strategy of the game. I very seldom see a player check raise maliciously. When it does happen though, it’s normally done by a player on tilt or by two players with legitimate grudges. In all truthfulness, being check raised by a player on tilt can prove to be very beneficial to you. Chances are they are reacting to a previous bad beat and not using good judgment.

So, here’s the real question. When did this "friendly" game of poker develop? Maybe it’s just me but it seems that an awful lot of players have become emotionally involved. It’s almost inevitable that any hand I deal that gets down to 2 players will be checked down. "Heads up? I check." "You want to check it down? It’s just me and you." " Oh…I check to my friend." I hear these phrases so many times during a shift it’s unbelievable.

Because you know what happens next, right?

The player who was behind on the flop ALWAYS catches up on the river.

And, you know what happens next, right?

The player who was ahead on the flop and loses that pot on the river gets mad. So there goes that friendly game of poker.

As a dealer, when it gets head’s up I’m tempted from time to time to take a small pause to let everyone at the table know that it’s head’s up. Then, as it becomes clear to everyone I’ll simply say, "OK guys, you’re head’s up. What’ll it be? Check, bet, bluff or check it down?" I mean, really can you imagine? Personally I’m all for the checking it down head’s up when I’m dealing. It makes my life a LOT easier.

Here’s an idea and you can take it if you want. I don’t want to be giving advice on poker or trying to talk strategy so let’s just say that I’m passing this information on based on my own perception.

How about betting your hand? How about using all the skills you’ve learned in the game to maximum the value of your hand? How about making a conscious effort to sit in a game to win.

Trust me, I’m the first to recognize that one of the things that makes poker so fun is the interactions and the friendships that develop at the poker table. Some of my best friendships have been made this way and some of the best times of my life have happened here (sad, but true). The difference is simple. Bet your hand. We are playing with the same objective and that’s to win. Letting a player draw out on you by checking it down really only increases the resentment. Check raising a friend at the table is all part of the game. If everyone is on the same page, maybe it won’t be viewed as personal.

I have heard many players say, "There are no friends at the poker table." This is important advice to live by in order to maintain a positive bankroll. Keep your friendships off the poker table and just play cards while you’re there. Keep your personal attacks verbal and your check raising a strategy.

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Personal Attacks and the Check Raise
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