Extracting as much profit from each hand is a critical aspect of a winning player. Winning minor pots will only cause your frustration levels to raise and cause negative aspects to impact your game. By winning the maximum amount from each and every pot that comes your way allows your game to remain at its peak for longer. Remember, poker is a game played above the shoulders, your mental state decides on your ability to remain a winning player, become frustrated with your play or lack of profit and tilt and self doubt will inevitably set in.
To increase the size of each pot that you win, you are required to encourage your opponents to put chips in the pot. Without your opponents putting chips in, the value of the pot is minimal and the value is never in your favor. Getting chips into the pot means encouraging players to call and raise your bets with weaker hands than yours, of course the aim is to allow your opponents to think that it is the correct decision for them to do so, no player will put chips into a pot knowing that they will lose them. The first common mistake is to freeze up and slow play with you have an extremely strong hand, thinking that you are doing the right thing and trapping other players will often fail to maximize full value from your hand. Opponents will see the possibility of your hand being strong and only check or purely call, they may fail to play back at you by raising or re-raising and thus the pot remains small. The other issue here is that although you may win the hand, you will set an image of yourself and players will see your betting patterns and stay away from the hands where they deem you to be strong.
Now lets say that you are in a late position holding 5h 5c and a player in an early position has raised, you have just called the raise and await the flop. When the flop lands it reads Ad 9h 5s, a fantastic flop for your hand as you now have a set of 5’s, almost a dream flop. Now is the our opportunity to exact maximum value from this hand. The original better leads out with a bet two thirds of the pot and the action moves to us. The mistake that many novices make is to attempt to slow play by simply calling this bet. Right now you have the perfect opportunity to get more money into the pot, rather than simply calling a raise will increase the stakes throughout the rest of the hand, why not raise in this position? What outcomes are possible here? Sure, you could call with the intentions of luring your opponent in, but if it turns out that they do have an ace, you are missing a great opportunity to raise the stakes, and allowing for a potential scare card to come on the turn to slow the action down.
The likely hood is that your opponent does have an ace, he raised pre-flop and then followed through with a continuation bet on the flop, the ace allowed this play to make sense. So your set of 5’s is a powerhouse against his ace. By you raising you may be showing him that you don’t believe him and he could make larger bets into you on following streets. Simply calling could allow a card to fall that enables him to catch up, maybe he didn’t have an ace and indeed has J J, if a jack falls then instantly you are behind and you may end up felted. The raise on the flop is the best play most of the time to maximize profit from this situation. In certain circumstances a flat call works to confuse your opponent but majority of the time you should be raising. Don't miss out on great opportunities to get more money in to the pot by trying to be tricky.
You may be afraid of raising here because you do not want to scare your opponent out of the pot. But if you think about it logically, if your opponent is not going to call a raise on the flop, what makes you think you are going to get any money out of them on future betting rounds?
Another common instance of this is to either check on the river or only bet a minimal amount with a hand that cannot be beaten, if an opponent is marginal about their hand it’s a very easy decision from them to follow with a check or minimal call and see the show down, thus decreasing the possible value of the pot. A calculated “value bet” on the river firstly makes the opponent think, maybe you are just testing the waters which may encourage a raise thinking you are weak, this being the best possible result. Maybe they just call, still profitable or worst case they fold and your still win the pot anyhow. You win more money over the long run with bigger bets on the river, even if you get called less often.