When holding the winning hand in no-limit Texas Hold’em, your goal should be to get as much money or chips from your opponents as possible. Squeezing as much as you can from other players is referred to as maximizing value. There are several factors to keep in mind in order to be successful in extracting the most money out of your table rivals.
To maximum your profits on winning hands, you have to get other players to toss money into the pot. If this does not happen, then you will fail to gain value on your hand. And how do you get your opponents to put money in the pot? By betting and raising, of course. A common mistake made by rookies is to not bet a strong hand, checking and calling in hopes of luring other players into thinking they may be ahead in the hand and setting those players up for a fall in later betting rounds. But what is actually occuring in such instances is that the novice player is missing chances to get more cash and chips into the pot to win. Slow-playing does have its place in the bag of tricks of a successful poker player. But it should be relegated to only the situations in which you are so far ahead and cannot be outdrawn and are sure that a bet will cause your opponent to fold. Otherwise, in the vast majority of situations, you should be betting for value when you have the best hand.
You don’t want to reduce the amount you can win by slow-playing and missing opportunities to bet. Your hand has value and the best way to maximize that value is by betting. Let’s look at an example. Say you are seated in late position and are dealt and call the pre-flop raise of a middle position player. The flop arrives as . A great flop for you as you now have trip 4′s. Your opponent makes a good-sized bet, roughly 3/4 of the pot. A tendency of beginners would be to call the bet and slowly reel in the middle position bettor. However, you have an awesome opportunity to raise and increase the amount wagered throughout the duration of the hand. If your opponent is holding an Ace, he likely would not fold and you’d be passing up an opportunity to increase the stakes. Being tricky in such situations by not raising is often counter-productive. Your hand has value now and you should capitalize on that.
Some players might be afraid to raise in this scenario in order to not scare the other player away. However, if your opponent won’t call a raise on the flop and folds, its likely that you wouldn’t be able to extract any money out of him on the turn and river anyway. This fact should be remembered whenever the thought occurs to you to slow-play and set a trap for your table rivals. There will be times that setting a trap is the correct play–particularly against overly aggressive players acting behind you who are counting on fold equity to win a bunch of pots. But many more times than not, you should get as much money into the pot as you can when you feel your opponent has a somewhat strong hand, as you probably won’t get more from him on fourth and fifth street if he does not have a decent hand. Don’t fear a fold by your opponent. You win large pots by betting and raising, so do it when your hand is valuable.
When attempting to maximize the value of your hands, realize that to get the most value, you need to bet and raise. Slow-playing a winning hand does not maximize the hand’s value. It tends to decrease the value you receive on a strong hand by missing opportunities to get more money into the pot and raising the stakes. Even if your bet or raise causes your opponent to fold, its not detrimental to winning as much as you can because your opponent more than likely would not have coughed up more cash on the turn and river if he was not willing to call your bet or raise on the flop. When you are presented with opportunities to get more cash or chips into the pot when you have a strong hand, take advantage of the opportunity and maximize the value of those winning hands.