Soft playing in poker is unethical. Soft play is often practiced using a trick called collusion where two players team up and collude with each other to win the game. It is a pure form of cheating that can be clearly detected by an experienced player. While anyone who plays poker should know that planned collusion surmounts to unethical practice, there is another form of practice that is quite unethical, though not many are aware of it. What we are talking about something that rather happens spontaneously at the table and can happen between strangers. Though it’s unplanned, it’s still unethical.
Today we will be talking about why ‘checking down’ after every player has moved in is considered an unethical practice. Let’s explain with a scenario. Let’s say you are playing a game where you aren’t doing too well and you are just planning to go off soon. You see your cards and find you are down at 9x 9x Two players on the right are playing extremely loose and betting on every pot. The first player raises the pot to $12 and the other calls. Finally they move all in for your last $30 (which seems the obvious move). The action is folded around back to the original raiser and called. Just then someone asks whether you want to ‘check it down?’ Before continuing, it is important to mention that checking it down is not acceptable here. Let’s find out why?
Poker is played for one simple purpose – to win. For this you have to play in a manner that best suits your interest and no one else’s. But when you start playing after making an agreement with a player not to bet, when another is already in, you are conspiring. In between the game you come at a point when you know you are doing good and capable of winning a side pot. But you will have to reduce your own potential gain because of the agreement made. When you agree to such a collusion, you are basically reducing your potential higher gain for a less risky gain which you would have to share. Thus if you want to maximize your chances of winning, you should not agree to ‘check it down’.
Many times, a player doesn’t realize that checking down is not allowed and a more experienced player takes advantage of this and asks to check down. But if you object to checking down, the person who was the raiser may say he played according to the game and even volunteer to show his cards. His cards can show that he actually had the worst hand in the game which can prove he wasn’t colluding.
But there’s the flip side to what his cards show. A person can collude predicting such a situation where he gets the worst hand and doesn’t want anybody to bet or raise. Checking down allows him to see all five cards and keep alive some chance at winning the pot.
So next time you are at the casino, don’t play along such ‘checking down’ tricks.