Sometimes there are opportunities to check raise bluff the river especially if your opponent is not a thin value bettor.
Last week I was playing in my typical $5-$10NL game at the Commerce Casino. It was a Friday night and it was obvious that my opponent in the hand we are going examine was a recreational player. Even though I had never seen him before I did notice that he limped in with very speculative hands from up front and he did not make value bets on the river when they were warranted. Similar to a lot of other recreational players it seemed like this opponent was very happy to check back even strong hands in position to take a showdown.
We were playing seven handed and a player opened from the hijack with a $800 stack to $40. I was in the small blind and decided to call with J♠ T♠. The Villain in the hand also called from the big blind with $1000 and we saw the flop three ways. The board came out K♣ 8♠ 6♣ totally missing me. I was entirely ready to check fold to a bet but the flop got checked through. The turn brought the Q♦ giving me an open ended straight draw. I figured that the preflop raiser would not slow play such a wet flop and as long as I could get through the big blind that this was a good opportunity for me to semi-bluff so I bet $75. Unfortunately, my plan did not work and the big blind called. The preflop raiser folded and we went on the river, which came out the 8♠.
Now even though I had absolutely no showdown value I did not think that this was a good spot to bluff. Because all of the draws bricked out I figured that the player in the big blind would call me with any pair thinking that I had missed a draw. So I decided to check, conceding the pot and fully expecting it to go check, check. However, after I checked my opponent now bet $125.
I was particularly surprised by his action because I fully expected him to check back any medium strength hand like a queen or a weak king. I also thought that he would have raised the turn with two pair or better protecting against the draws so it was very difficult for him to have a strong hand unless he had trip eights. But the only way that he would have arrived at the river with trips rights is if he had had a flush draw. So versus a player that did not make thin value bets his bet on the river was inherently polarized.
If you are familiar with my training material over at CrushLivePoker.com you might have heard me use the phrase “Fifth Street Chicken”. Fifth Street Chicken basically describes a situation where we call a raise on the turn with a strong but non-nut hand fully prepared to check-fold on the river if our opponent bets again, even if nothing changes. Many times the fact that our opponent bets again gives us the information we need in a large pot that we no longer have the best hand. However, sometimes we still win in these situations if our opponent was raising with a weaker hand on the turn and then checks back on the river.
This particular hand however, was the exact opposite. I was expecting to lose if the action went check-check but if my opponent bet I could actually raise and take it away. So instead of checking with the intention of check-folding I was checking with the intention of check-raising. And I did not have to size my raise that large if all I was trying to do was to fold out ace highs. In fact, I chose a sizing of $270 and my opponent quickly folded.