It's not often these days that I learn about what is to me an entirely new strategic tool to keep in the poker toolbox, but Dusty Schmidt's column in the latest issue of Card Player magazine (November 2, 2011, Vol. 24, #22, page 36) qualifies as such an occasion. He calls the move "checking with a chip":
In no-limit when the pot is medium or relatively big, you're out of position, and checking would normally be the play, sometimes it's advantageous to bet a small amount (usually the minimum bet) rather than the obvious check. As long as the pot is reasonably large relative to the size of the bet, the additional risk is minimal. Even still, you'll benefit in a few ways.
- Both of you are on a busted draw. He might fold his better no-pair hand. This doesn't have to happen very often for it to be an incredibly profitable play.
- If your hand is likely the loser yet strong enough that you would have to call at least a medium-sized bet after checking to your opponent, one chip can act as the cheapest possible blocking bet. If he raises, you can have more confidence that he has you, and fold with minimal loss, but if he just calls, you get to showdown more cheaply than if it had gone check-bet-call.
- Many opponents can't resist the temptation to read such a small bet as weakness and bluff-raise. In situations where bluffs are a large part of his raising range, so that you have an easy call, checking with a chip may induce a bluff more reliably than a check would.