vs turn check-raise

How to React to a Check-Raise on the Turn: Theory vs Practice

If facing a turn check-raise has ever made you hate life, this is the article for you.

We are about to go over both the theoretical and practical aspects of this situation so you can quickly identify the winningest strategy for your given hand.

Table of Contents:

Let’s jump in!

General Advice for Playing vs Turn Check-Raise

Playing against turn check-raises should not be difficult. 

Some players seem is usually because they are betting with incorrect hands — ones that are slightly too weak to value bet — or because they did not come up with a plan for how to play versus a raise before betting.

You can pretty much instantly improve your win-rate versus turn check-raises by doing two things:

  • Bet on the turn with fewer medium-strength value hands.
  • Always consider what you will do versus a check-raise before betting.

Practice versus Theory

There is a big difference between how things should be done and how they are actually done. It’s as true in life as it is in poker.

When it comes to turn check-raising, if your opponent is using a theoretically sound strategy, you will need to continue with a lot more hands than you would versus most players. 

Why? Because a theoretically sound check-raising strategy is a lot more aggressive than what most players actually do in-game.

To illustrate this, let’s look at how a solver would approach both the offensive and defensive aspects of a turn check-raise situation. 

Then, we will alter the check-raiser’s range to simulate a more accurate representation of what we will encounter at the tables.

Example: “Optimal” Opponent vs. Realistic Opponent

Cash Game. 100bb Effective Stacks.

Hero is dealt two cards on the button.
Hero raises to 2.5bb. sb folds. Big Blind calls.

Flop T♠ 8 5
Big Blind checks. Hero bets 1.8bb. Big Blind calls.

Turn Q♠
Big Blind checks. Hero bets 6bb. 

First, let’s see how an optimal opponent (according to PioSolver) would play versus this double barrel on the turn:

turn check raise bb vs btn double barrel

When you see a hand with multiple colors, it means that the solver uses a mixed strategy with that hand.

The solver likes check-raising with:

  • ~50% of the KJ combos (open-ended straight draw).
  • ~20% of the QJo combos (top pair + straight draw).
  • Some shreds of 98 (middle pair + straight draw).
  • A high percentage of the combo draws (7♠ 4♠, 6♠ 4♠, etc.).
  • 20% of the time with QT (top 2 pair).
  • All of the J9 combos (the nut straight).

That is pretty damn aggressive compared to most players’ check-raising strategy. Let’s continue with our example under the assumption that the Big Blind is using it:

Turn (T♠ 8 5) Q♠
Big Blind checks. Hero bets 6. Big Blind raises to 21.8bb. Hero…?

Here is how the solver likes reacting to this check-raise in Hero’s spot:

The solver likes calling with:

  • All of the pairs that have a straight draw.
  • Almost all of the Jx straight draws.
  • Most of the overpairs, (which are close to break-even calls).

(Side note: The solver is actually defending at the Minimum Defense Frequency for this spot.)

Now, it’s time to look at this spot through a more practical lens.

I have found that players check-raise with a much different and tighter range. Most of your opponents will probably check-raise on T♠ 8 5 Q♠ with a range that is much closer to this one:

  • 100% of the straights (J9).
  • 50% of the top 2 pairs (QT).
  • All of the combo draws.

(Note: This range is already quite tight, but even this is looser than the value-only range many players use in spots like this. Try to identify those value-only people and do yourself a favor by playing extremely tight in response to their check-raises.)

Here is how the solver would counter the above strategy:

That’s a lot of folding, which makes sense considering the composition of the check-raising range.

We can see here that all one pair hands, many of which were happily calling before, are now snap-folds. The only hands that are clearly profitable calls are sets, straights and combo draws like J♠ 8♠. Even top two pair should be folded most of the time against this tight check-raiser’s range.

Final Thoughts

There is an old piece of poker knowledge that was posted on the 2+2 forums many, many years ago that still holds true:

You should strongly re-evaluate the strength of one-pair hands in the face of a raise on the turn.

-Andrew “BalugaWhale” Seidman, 2+2 forums (2006)

That’s all for now. As usual, if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment down below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Good luck out there, grinders!

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Home > How to React to a Check-Raise on the Turn: Theory vs Practice
About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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