Getting the most amount of money from your opponents on your winning hands should always be your goal as a successful poker player. The key is to maximize the value of your strong hands. There are ways to go about doing this, but the main one is to bet and raise when you believe that your hand is the strongest. If your opponents are not contributing money into the pot, you will not be gaining value on your winning hand.
A common mistake made by beginner Texas Hold’ Em players is to try being crafty when holding a strong hand by checking and calling instead of betting and raising so as not to lose money if they should bet and opponents fold. The rookies try to lure opponents in and string them along. However, the end result is actually missing out on opportunities to bet and build bigger pots. Slowplaying usually gets less money into the pot, as well as affording other players the opportunity to make their drawing hands. By not betting and raising when you have the best hand, you are failing to maximize the potential value of your hand, thereby reducing profits.
Let’s look at an example. You are in late position with pocket 5′s and a middle position player raises four times the big blind pre-flop. You call the raise and all the other players fold. The flop of 9-5-A has your opponent betting 3/4 the size of the pot. Holding trip 5′s, there are many players who believe the best play here would be to hide the strength of your hand by just calling the bet and setting up your opponent for a raise in future betting rounds. However, this is an excellent opportunity to get additional dollars into the pot and jacking up the stakes for the duration of the hand. There is no need to be cagey and fear that your table rival will fold. After all, if he won’t call your raise on the flop, how can you be sure that he will be calling your raises after the turn and the river? You should be making a value bet and raising post-flop. Continue reading →