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There are two possible reason for check-raising on the river. The first is for value because you have a good hand and you want to make to most of it and the second reason is that you are trying to win the pot on a bluff. At different times and in different hands you should be playing this both ways. As we have pointed out in previous articles it is very important that you do not become too predictable and playing this hand both ways in different situations is a good way to keep other players from being able to read you too easily.
Check-Raising the River for Value
When you are going for a check-raise on the river because you have, what you believe to be, the best hand then you need to be in an early position and you must feel pretty comfortable that a player behind you is going to bet. It is going to be important at this point to consider how the action has gone in the previous betting rounds on the previous streets. In a No Limit Texas Hold Em game you will have to consider the amount that your raise is going to be.
Bet-sizing properly in this situation will be very important because if you are holding a monster hand then you are going to want to bet an amount that will get you a call. If there are a number of other players in the hand at this point and the player in the last position bets and you have a monster hand, or even the nuts, then you are going to have to consider what your read is on all of the other players that are still in the pot. The best way to do this is to consider how play has transpired in this hand so far and also from you knowledge about the players from previous hands.
The thing that you want to consider here is whether check calling will get some of the other players left in the hand to call and whether you feel that the last position bettor will call your raise. If you do not believe that the last position bettor will call your raise and there are other players still left in the hand, it might make you more money just to call in the hopes that someone will call behind you.
Check-Raising the River with a Medium Value Hand
One of the big concerns with check raising the river when you do not have a monster hand is that it the original bettor plays back at you and 4-bets, maybe even an all in shove, then you might not be able to see a show down. If you have a hand that has showdown equity but is not exceptionally strong, then unless you have a really good read that would indicate that you check raise in this situations, then you are probably better off just calling.
Check-Raising the River on a Bluff
Check-raising is a very strong play and, unless you have developed a table image of a wild player, it is a difficult one to call with anything less than a monster hand. Having check called the entire way it will look like you have been slow playing a monster. You need to consider the player that you are against because some players just do not bluff. You will also need to consider the size of your raise because if it is not big enough that, unless your opponent is on a stone cold bluff, he will be forced to call because of pot odds.