CHECKDOWN

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In an earlier entry in this “Casino Poker for Beginners” series of articles, I explained how agreements between friends khổng lồ soft play each other — a practice called collusion — is unethical, against the rules, & a size of cheating. But there’s another form of collusion that frequently crops up spontaneously at the poker table between strangers. It is just as wrong as the planned variety, though those who vì it often aren’t aware of that fact.

Let me tell you the story of the first time this happened lớn me.

It was in 2006, at the Hilton (now known as “The LVH”) poker room. I’d had a bad session, was getting tired, và was about to lớn go home page when I looked down at . The two players lớn my right were extremely loose, involved in almost every pot. So when the first of them raised it to lớn $12 & the other called, moving all in for my last $30 or so seemed the obvious move sầu.

The action was folded around baông xã khổng lồ the original raiser & caller, both of whom called. Then one asked, “You want lớn just kiểm tra it down?” The other agreed.

I protested lớn the dealer. He said, “What’s wrong with that?”

(Which, by the way, tells you that not knowing rules sometimes afflicts not just players, but the dealers, too, as Chad Holloway was discussing just last week in “Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 54: Dealers Aren’t Always Right.”)


Let me explain what’s wrong with it.

As I talked about in that earlier article about soft play, one of the fundamental principles of poker is that every player must make decisions in his or her own best interest — not in the best interest of any other player. When you enter an agreement not to lớn bet against another player when another is already all in, you are conspiring. You are reducing you own potential gain, because if you developed a very svào hvà, your best interest would be served by making another bet and hoping an opponent called with a worse hand, making a side pot you could win.

If you want to lớn maximize your chance of winning the biggest possible pot, you don’t agree to “kiểm tra it down.” The effect of the collusion is that each of the agreeing players shares the risks và rewards — that is khổng lồ say, they trade off maximum chance of winning the biggest possible pot for a reduced risk of losing what they’ve sầu already put inkhổng lồ it.

Look at it this way: if you’re all in against two opponents, wouldn’t you love it if one of them made a big bet and drove the other out of the pot, so that you’d only have sầu to beat one other hand at the showdown? Even better, wouldn’t it be great if the person betting did so with a weak hand, & drove the best hand out of the pot? Of course. So when those two players instead explicitly agree not to push each other off of their hands, it hurts you by making it harder for you to win.

In my situation, the floor person intervened when the dealer didn’t know what he was supposed lớn vị. But, of course, the damage was already done. Even if two players are officially required to lớn recant their agreement, there’s still the wink-wink, nudge-nudge knowledge that they’re going lớn abide by it anyway.

As it turned out, I won the hand.

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One player was very apologetic, và clearly had not understood that it was against the rules. When I explained the reason behind the rule, he immediately saw why it was. I’m confident that he gets it now, và won’t vì it again.

The other guy (the original raiser), however, was annoyed that I was accusing hyên of collusion. He showed me his

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-offsuit, và asked, “If I was trying to collude, why would I vị it with the worst hvà in poker?”

I didn’t respond, because I didn’t want to lớn escalate into an argument. But a moment’s thought answers his question. Think about it — it is precisely in those situations in which he has the weakest range of hands that he wouldn’t want anybody toàn thân betting or raising! The collusion allows hyên lớn see all five board cards & keep at least some small chance of winning the pot, where a bet or raise would probably force him to lớn fold.


There are two important exceptions lớn this general prohibition regarding “checking it down” worth noting.

Occasionally when there is a bet or raise and everybody folds except the last player who still has the option lớn điện thoại tư vấn, that player will make an agreement with the bettor: I’ll gọi if you agree to kiểm tra it down after this round of betting. That is, the potential caller says that he’s only willing lớn hotline if he doesn’t have to risk any more of his money after the hotline. Although I think this isn’t good size, it doesn’t have the problem of collusion. The bettor can accept the call on the terms offered, or decline it & take the pot as it is. Either way, he’s making a decision based solely on what he thinks is best for him. There’s no conspiracy of two players against a third.

The other exception comes in tournaments, particularly in the late stages, when two players will often check down a h& when a third one is all in. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as it isn’t being done by means of an explicit agreement between the players.

In a tournament, each player’s interest in moving up the pay scale & knocking somebody out of contention for the title may well be greater than the interest in winning a particular pot. Therefore, in such a situation, each player is still acting in his own best interest by keeping as many opponents in the hand as possible. Put another way, it can be in the best interest of all of the other players that anytoàn thân wins the hand except for the guy who is all in. But that’s not true in a cash game, since a player losing all of his chips will either just buy more or be replaced by a new player bringing new chips inlớn the game.

You probably won’t have lớn play for very many hours in a casino poker game before you’ll hear two players try this kind of one-hvà collusion. Many players have no idea that it’s unethical and against the rules. But now you vày.

Robert Woolley lives in Asheville, NC. He spent several years in Las Vegas và chronicled his life in poker on the “Poker Grump” blog.

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