Explanation of Checking
If any player has bet before us on the current street, our options are to call, raise or fold. Checking is not an option, because we must always at least match the previous bet made on the current street. Therefore, checking is not an available option preflop unless we are specifically in the BB. Remember, all other players must at least match the BB’s 1bb preflop posting (or fold).
The term check-back refers exclusively to a check made while in-position. It’s usually possible to spot that someone is not following the action correctly if they describe a check out-of-position as a “check-back.”
Check-to-the-PFR is a term used to describe a check made out-of-position when facing an opponent who took the last aggressive action (raised or re-raised) preflop.
Example of Checking Used in a Sentence → “I checked the flop and my opponent checked-back”.
How to Use Checking as Part of Your Poker Strategy
Checking makes sense mostly when we are looking to keep the size of the pot small. This strategy might imply we hold a marginal or garbage hand. Checking might also be used as a way to deceive or mislead with a strong hand (referred to as Slowplaying).
Checking is also frequently applied when out-of-position, facing an opponent who took the last aggressive action on the previous street. This play is not always strategically correct, but many players have developed a habit of continually checking vs an opponent who showed aggression on the previous street.
For a full discussion on the different legal options in poker, see the glossary entry on Actions.