playing poker

Tip 30 Bet to you

When you hold the best hand and someone else has bet, you are giving your opponents a free card if you merely call.  There is little difference between checking the best hand if no one has yet bet, and calling with it once someone has wagered.  So, once again, you must focus both on extracting the maximum from your opponents, and on how potentially catastrophic granting a free card might be.
  As a general policy, you should raise a bettor whenever you hold a fragile hand that nevertheless figures to be the best at this point, especially if other players remain to act in the hand.  For example, you hold J-J and the board is 4-6-9-T.  Raise if someone bets and you are next, for two reasons.

  • You don’t want to give players holding overcards or other draws a cheap shot at the pot.
  • You are very likely getting more money into the pot with the best hand, which is a good thing.

The time to just call a bet with the best hand is when you want other players to call behind you.  This happens when your opponents are drawing dead* or very close to it.  Only a few big hands deserve to be played in this fashion – nut flushes, full houses, and four of a kind.  And, you should smooth call ** only when you feel this action will create a larger pot than a raise would, because you fear that your opponents will run for the hills when faced with calling a raise.  If they are willing to call a raise on poker turn, then by all means accommodate them.

* Drawing dead: Trying to make a hand that will lose if made.  An example is  drawing to a flush when an opponent already has a made full house
   **   Smooth call:  Call, and specifically not raise, on your turn.