Poker Check: How to Use It and When to Fold

When playing poker, the check is an important move that can help you win more money. But when should you use it and how does it work? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about using the poker check to your advantage.

What is a poker check?

A poker check is a betting action in a poker game where the player passes during a betting round instead of betting or raising.

In most cases, a player may choose to check instead of to bet if there are no bets before them.

Also called a pass, a poker check is essentially betting zero chips. A player cannot check if there are bets before them. They can only fold, call or raise.

In some poker variants, a player is not allowed to check. In 7-Stud, for instance, the player with the lowest upcard must place a full bet and cannot check. In some obscure home games, players may need to beat or match the pot if they show different combinations of cards.

A common mistake beginners make is to try to check in the preflop for a game with blinds, such as Texas Hold’em. Blinds are initial bets so poker players after the blind cannot check because there is a bet before them.

Common check phrases you hear on the table

poker check

  • Check-raise
  • Check-out
  • Check-fold
  • Check to the raiser
  • Check it down
  • Check to the river
  • Check or bet

Hand signals for checking

Because checking is a common poker action, a standard hand signal was developed to indicate that a player wants to check. It is assumed that a player is checking if they tap the table with one’s fist, fingers, or cards.

This is usually only acceptable if the player taps the table twice. Touching your cards to the table is not considered a check. However, if the intent seems clear, a player can hit the table with one fist to indicate a check.

Tapping the table can sometimes be a sign of anxiety. This can lead to confusion and even confrontation. To avoid being taken as a check, it is best not to tap the table during your turn to act or any other time during a betting round.

If the dealer or other players believe that you have checked, and if there are too many players who act on this assumption, you could lose your chance to act.

If you find yourself moving nervously while thinking, it is important to quickly call for time so that the dealer and players will accept only the more clearly stated action.

It is so common to check that players use more unusual gestures and hand signals to indicate that they are checking. These gestures are more expressive, such as pointing in the direction of the dealer while twirling your fingers in a circle, or pointing at the player to your left. These are less likely to be “accidentally” done by a player thinking.

You can also wave your cards up and down, facedown, as if you were tapping them to the table. This is another thing that should avoid while thinking as it can easily be misinterpreted.

The button is often used by players near it to signal a check. Instead of tapping the table, this can be done by tapping a chip to the button once or twice. Or by reaching out and flipping the dealer button to the other side.

Verbal signals for checking

Similar to hand signals, there are many ways that players can state verbally that they are checking. Most of these statements will be binding if accepted by the dealer and other players. These are some of the most common verbal signals for checking.

  • “I check”
  • “Check!”
  • “Pass!”
  • “Go!”
  • “Roll ’em!”
  • “Deal!”
  • “Next!”
  • “By me”
  • “OK!”
  • “No.”

Some of these phrases seem contradictory, such as “OK” and “No.” In some cases, players indicate that the dealer should deal the cards (“Go”, “Deal”, etc); while in other cases, the player indicates that they are declining any bets (“No”, “By me”, etc).

Be careful when you speak when it’s your turn to act. If the context is not clear, short phrases or demonstrative words could be taken to mean that you are checking even if you are not.


The poker check is an important move if you don’t want to bet any chips. Click To Tweet

Understanding when and how to use a poker check can improve your chances of coming out ahead. When holding a poker hand, you will understand hand rankings and how to use them to your advantage.