When you decide to check-raise, you must be fairly sure that somebody behind you will bet. If you check with the intent of raising but nobody bets, a terrible thing has happened: you have given a free card. This is another reason why you have to watch and study your opponents. In the first example above, you would really like to check-raise. However, if the alternatives are betting out immediately or having it checked around the table, then you should of course bet.
Sometimes the reputation that you get for check-raising works to your disadvantage — people are unwilling to bet for fear that you will check-raise! This is good when you have a bad hand with which you'd like to get a free card. It's bad when you have a good hand and want to check-raise. Since you could use a free card more often than you have a check-raising hand, it's OK that your opponents are intimidated. However, if your check-raise is to work, you must be confident that at least one of your opponents is prepared to bet.
Note: in a very small number of public cardrooms and casinos, check-raising is not permitted. It is also prohibited in some home games. If so, your only potent weapon to use up front is gone. You must play extremely tightly in front, and bet all your good hands immediately. Hold'em without the check-raise is a crippled game.
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