What Happens if Everyone Checks in Poker?


In poker, checking means passing up on the opportunity to make a bet when it’s your turn. When it’s a player’s turn to act, he/she has the option of calling the previous bet, raising the bet, or checking. Calling means to match the previous bet, raising means betting a higher amount while checking simply means to pass on the chance to bet. So what happens if everyone decides to check? Read all the details below.

everybody checking in poker
Everybody checking is usually an indication that nobody has a really strong hand. But be careful, opponents can slowplay also!

What happens if everyone checks in poker? If everyone checks in poker, they’ll have to wait till the next betting round to act their turn again. Specifically, this scenario means a round is completed without anyone placing a bet.

At the end of a round where everyone checks, a free card is dealt before the next round begins.

If the checking happens in the last round, all players are mandated to show their cards at a showdown.

Many players employ different forms of checking as a strategy in their gameplay. While certain players may try to limit the size of the pot by checking, others can also employ it to grow the pot.

Checking Round the Table

In poker, players are allowed to check when no one has placed a bet before them. This means when you check, the players who occupy later positions have the option to bet, raise or check as well. If they place a bet, the action comes back to you. If they don’t place a bet, the round ends, and the new community card is dealt(on the board) or three cards if it was preflop.

However, there’s a slight difference when this scenario plays out in the last stage. If everyone checks in the last round, the hand is settled by a show of cards. The rules of the game state that the first player to check from the small blind is expected to show his/her card first. The action then goes round the table in a clockwise direction.

Who can Check in Poker

Anyone whose bet hasn’t been raised is allowed to check in poker. Usually, a player has the option to bet, call, fold, raise, or check when the action comes to them. While the other options are default, a check requires a specific condition.

To have the option to check, you must either be on the big blind, and nobody has raised preflop yet. Or nobody has placed a bet yet when the action is on you postflop.

This way, only the BB can check preflop.

Why do People Check in Poker?

checking in online poker
In online games, if you can check, then the option will be displayed to you.

The most popular reason poker players check preflop is to limit the size of the pot. In a table where everyone checks often, the pot is likely to be small. Players use this strategy when they hold a weak or marginal hand. However, it can also be used to mislead your opponents when you hold a strong hand. This is called slowplaying.

Players also check continually when they’re playing out of position against an opponent that made the last aggressive action on a previous round. While many professional players recon that this is not a great strategy, many players still prefer to check against any opponent who played aggressively on a previous street.

Another reason players check during a game is when they’re trying to gather info on what their opponents hold. This strategy is a common sight after the flop. Consider a scenario where 3 people are left in a hand, and they all check when the flop comes. This scenario is common when you play online, especially on micro stakes.

Playing online makes it difficult to read your opponents as you can’t see them. That is why many professionals rely on 3rd party software (also known as HUDs), which gives them a lot of information about opponents’ playstyle.

With a check, however, the message usually is that players are checking because they have a weak hand.

When you check first on the flop, and your opponents checks after you, then you should come out firing on all cylinders when the turn comes.

Of course, you could lose your bet if another player checks-raises you or a player calls you. This is why this is best done when you are up against only one opponent.

Even if you get called on the turn, you improved your image by showing your opponents that you’re not the type of player who checks terrible hands, and if you ever try to slowplay a hand, your opponents won’t have a clue.

Check-raise

slowplaying check raise poker
When you have a really strong hand and think that the opponent has a decent hand also, it makes sense to go for a check-raise to build up the pot.

Check Raise is mainly used for:

  1. To build the pot with a good hand (can be dangerous, as you risk giving a free card)
  2. To make people fold their weak hands (as a bluff check-raise)
  3. To combat late position steals (very hard to steal with weak hands if you get check-raised all the time)

In poker, a check-raise happens when a player checks early during a hand with the hope that an opponent bets. When an opponent does bet, the player who is making a check-raise can then make a re-raise. Players usually make a check-raise when they suspect that their opponent will try to bluff with a weak hand but wouldn’t be interested in calling a direct bet, or if they have a strong enough hand to even call the check-raise and we build the pot with a good hand.

The idea behind this is that when other players aren’t willing to place a bet, a player who wants to make a raise can only do so once. If an opponent bets first, the player who is check-raising can then raise to increase the pot size. This way, you get paid more when you hold a dominant hand like sets, or flushes, or straights, and an opponent has a  good hand, unwilling to let go.

Apart from building the pot, a check-raise may also be used to intimidate players who frequently steal the pot. When players are check-raised frequently, they are less likely to try to steal pots. While this is an excellent way to increase the pot size for a good win, it has an element of risk to it as well.

If you check in the hope that an opponent bets, but nobody does, you face a scenario where everyone checks around the table and go on to see a card. Hence, a check-raise is a strategy that must be employed with utmost caution.

Although check-raises can be a strong strategy, it’s not allowed in certain cash games. Also, not all players are fond of the check-raise.

Doyle Brunson once claimed that it was more profitable to bet a good hand irrespective of an opponent’s tendency to bluff.

According to his logic, a failed check-raise is a recipe for disaster as it allows your opponent to see a free card while also revealing to your opponents that you may have a strong hand.

Final Thoughts

A check is a strategic move that players employ for several reasons. In the scenario that everyone checks around the table, the current hand will end with no winner while everyone gets another card. This card can be crucial for some players. This is why it is never advisable to check when you’ve got a strong hand.

If you check and everyone else checks across the table, an opponent who has a weak hand can improve their chances with an additional card, thereby reducing your odds of winning the hand. Then again, a check-raise could be utilized to significant effect in several situations, so it’s all about how you want to play your cards, literarily.

It would be really bad to give a free card when you hold top set against 3 opponents. it happens quite often that one of them hits a gutshot straight, or even a higher set on turn or river. That is a great way to get you on tilt and cause you to start playing bad.

Related questions

How do you know when to check in Online poker? The computer will indicate when you have the option to check (check the image above). The scenario is the same as in standard live games. You can only check when you are to act either in the big blind preflop, and nobody has made the raise. Or postflop if action is on you, and nobody has placed a bet.

How often should you check? There’s no limit on your tendency to check. It all depends on your strategy and the scenario. However, it is always advisable to not check with a strong hand as you run the risk of everyone else checking and getting a free card that could strengthen their hand.

Can the blinds check preflop? Yes, the blinds can check preflop if no one else has made a preflop raise. This would be the case where both small blind and big blinds are of the same amount. 5/5 live games, for example. But where small blind is smaller (this is the typical scenario), then only the big blind gets the option to check if nobody has raised, and at least one person only called preflop (matched the big blind – ‘limped’).

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Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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