Most online poker sites have checkboxes available for your convenience. This article discusses what they do and how useful they are, the required etiquette, and any dangers inherent in using them. The actual boxes themselves may appear on the main playing view, or at the click of a tab which takes you to “settings” or some similarly named area.
The main advantage to you of the checkbox is convenience. You may know what you want to do before the system prompts you, and want to save time, especially if one or more players seems to be taking ages to do their turns (activating their time bank in some online games).
The checkboxes are:
A very useful checkbox which speeds up the game and can be utililised in plenty of situations where you know you will fold no matter what action precedes you. However you need to be absolutely sure that you want to fold, regardless of what the other players do. Would you fold if everyone else before you folds? Suppose there’s only two of you left? If it’s only a question of a few cents… etc.
A pretty useful option which also speeds up the game and there are still plenty of situations where you would only consider checking. Again, by checking the check checkbox (phew!) you are saying that there is no way that you would do anything other than check regardless of other play. If everyone else is checking… might you now want to twist some tails by a modest raise, just to flush out any weak hands around the table? See Check/Fold below.
A fairly harmless checkbox which allows you to fold if the pot has been opened in front of you but check if all active players had checked around to you. You should be careful not to use this option too often. If your opponents detect a pattern here, it may cause some of them to place a minimum bet in order that they risk little, but have a high chance of getting you to fold. Are you sure you want to either check or fold. What if there’s only
Alert Alert! This is a dangerous box to check, particularly if you are at a no limit table. Your whole stack would be at risk if a player with a bigger chip stack made a bet in front of you that was big enough to put you all in. Therefore you would need a very strong hand to use this box in the first place, plus observant players would notice you used the call any option and suspect you either had a big hand or were trying to set up a bluff on a later betting round. Either way this would be providing opponents with information, therefore use this cautiously, or like a number of seasoned online players, not at all.
Muck Losing Hands
Always have this option checked. Poker is a game of information, and you shouldn’t give any away for free. If you don’t check it, then your losing hand will be shown. People will know whether you’ve been trying to bluff, betting on a weak hand, acting irrationally, or whatever. Unless you really want to slow the game down, or try to show players how you play as a sort of double-bluff, I would always advise from showing your losing hands.
You should check this box if you plan to be away from the poker table for longer than a few seconds; it maintains a fast paced game for everyone around you and it’s considered a basic form of poker etiquette.
Keeping the game flowing is the responsibility of all players. No one likes it when there is one player at the table who takes his full allotted time to make his decision each time it is his turn. Occasionally you may have a tough decision to make, but not every turn! So use the checkboxes where appropriate. But here is a warning:
If you habitually use checkboxes, then it may allow other online players to gain some information about your style of play. You never want to give this away. That’s why in live Poker, seasoned veterans adopt a “poker face” or wear shades, to avoid giving away any tell-tale facial signs as to what their hand it, what they are thinking, and what their emotions are? Speed of play, especially when caused by checking boxes, can be a give-away.
Typically, a quick bet is a sign of weakness, and a delayed action is a sign of strength, as the player is calculating his strategy with what he perceives to be a good hand. Watch how much time it takes the other players to make their action, and mentally make a note of it.
A good strategy is to try to take the same amount of time for every action, so that observant players cannot draw any conclusions from your own speed of play. You can usually tell when a player has used a check box, because his action comes within the blink of an eye of the player before him. You can use this to your advantage. When a player has checked “raise any” it should be obvious that he has a strong hand. If a player uses the check box to “check” then you can probably surmise that his hand is weak. If a player uses the check box to “call any”, then maybe we can assume that he has a draw hand that he has not completed, but is definitely not ready to fold. While these are not 100% accurate, the observant player can over time, begin to draw conclusions and make assumptions based on opponents’ use of the check boxes.
The fact that a player feels strongly enough about a hand to make a decision before even seeing the actions of the players before him, should be an indication as to what that player is holding. But on the other hand, are the other players watching you that closely? For casual small stake pot-limit or less games, then people may be playing more fun a quick bit of fun than to win at all costs.
So, in conclusion, take into account the type of game you are playing online, and whether you want to play your cards close to your chest, by not using any checkboxes in case other players are carefully monitoring the time taken for you to act when it’s your turn, or want to move the game on and use checkboxes. It’s up to you. But the best suggestion I can give, is to change your type of play regularly- at least day by day if not during a single session. Keep the opposition guessing- now that’s a check box you must check!