I have decided, in all my infinite wisdom, to write a series of articles about Texas Hold-Em. A lot has been said about the “Cadillac of Poker” over the years, and many poker professionals are often happy to write about what they know. So why should you listen to what I have to say? Easy. I am not a pro so my experiences are going to be more like the ones a typical home game player will experience. I have learned a lot about this game just by playing it with friends and on the internet, so I am going to share this knowledge. Please note that these articles will assume that you know the general rules and game flow of Texas Hold-Em.
First, I would like to talk about blind checking. This is something that most players do not do at all, but probably should. Blind checking is when you are the first person to act after the flop but choose to check before the flopped cards are visible. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why’o the heck’o would anyone want to do that?” The answer to this question is also simple. Blind checking in effect lets you see what the other players are going to do before you have to make a decision. In effect, you eliminate some of your positional disadvantage by blind checking. This can also be done before you see the turn card and even the river card.
There are some drawbacks to this play though. Sometimes it is good to be the first person to act in a round of betting. If you are trying to bet people off of a hand and make them fold, leading off with bets is a good way to do that. This keeps people from being able to play “catch up” and sucking out on your good hands more than you’d like. That brings me to my second point. Sometimes you will flop a good but not great hand. In that instance you will likely want to bet as well in order to defend what you have. Lastly, if you are trying to represent a good hand to the table, a good way to do that is to continue to lead of betting rounds with, of all things, a bet. Blind checking will not help you represent what you’ve got.
You can blind check in any round of betting, but be careful about how you go about this. It’s not really a good idea to be random and bet hands on the flop then blind check hands on the turn. While this strategy has some merit if you are playing your hand and the players, it’s not wise to use this strategy just to get information from your opponent. A good player will figure out when you are bluffing. Also, doing this gives good players time to calculate their odds of catching a card or odds of sucking out. I don’t mean time as in minutes sitting at the poker table, but as in the progression of a hand. The odds change in a hold-em game every time a card is flipped. A good player will take advantage of every free card you give him/her. Either way, a good player will take you down to funky town and buy you a lap dance — with your money!
Also, I’d like to make a note about the big blind. When the big blind is limping in to a hand, via a check or call, it is usually a good idea for that player to blind check. Why? Well, a big blind shouldn’t be limping in on any hands that aren’t 1. Free (if it’s a bad hand), 2. Unlikely to win but worth a stab at it (that 7c 8c that you’ve been dying to get a cheap look at or your Qh 9h that doesn’t look good unless the price is right), or 3. Immaculate (limping with AA or KK is sometimes a good strategy if you are going for a payoff – plus mixing up your play with these kind of hands is always good). After the blind check, other players will make their moves and you will be better able to evaluate their hands when the betting gets back to you. Also, you will be able to compare the hand you have to the hands you think your opponents have and go from there. I’m not saying that you should always blind check from this position, just that it’s not really ever a bad play – unless you decided to raise pre-flop. Do NOT check blind from this position if you raised pre-flop. Other players will get a beat on you, or they will be hesitant and you will not be able to figure out what they might be holding.
To summarize, blind checking is a good idea when you think the best play is to see what the other players are going to do. There are many instances where this might happen so make sure you are paying attention to your play and the play of the others at your table. Mixing up how you play your cards and hands will make it more difficult for the people you play with to get a read on you/your hands, and that will always help you no matter who you are up against.