Tip 18
Best hand

One of the inevitable side effects of playing hold’em is having to listen to your opponents while about how unlucky they got in the last hand, the hand before that, and the hand last month when some caught two consecutive flush cards to outdraw their set.  What you won’t hear is how their demise could have been avoided with one simple action: a raise on the flop! So often it happens that a player calls a bet with a fairly strong hand on the flop, which in turn convinces other players to call as well.  Had he raised, the player holding the best hand on the flop might have induced his opponents either to fold or make a very expensive call, both of which are positive results for the raiser.

Make It Tough on Opponents

When you hold the best hand, play it aggressively.  Tip 17 encouraged you to bet whenever you feel you have the best hand, and this Tip encourages you to raise when the player to your right has bet, if you feel you have the best hand.  Again, you need not be certain your hand is good to make raising correct.

  You want to make it difficult for players behind you to remain in the pot.  Raising serves to protect your hand : that is, it becomes very expensive for opponents to stay in the hand with you, and they will likely fold.  This generally increases your chances of winning the pot, and that is a good thing.

Don’t Give Them Odds to Call

Suppose you have K-Q and the flop comes K-9-5.  You flopped top pair.  If the player to your right bets and you are next (with a few players yet to act), you must raise here.  Yes, it is possible you are behind.  The bettor could have A-K or 9-9 , for instance.  However, most likely you have him beat at this point.  The problem with just calling is the players behind you.  If you call, they will probably call as well with hands like Q-J or A-9.  Raising here relates to the concept of pot odds.  You don’t want to call and give your opponents a favorable price to overcall in an attempt to draw out on you.  Rather, raise and take away the value of their hands.  They may choose to call anyway, but you have done your part.  They are throwing money away if they call – throwing it away to you.  Don’t give your opponents the proper pot odds to draw out on you.

Build a Pot

Another reason to raise a bet to your right when you feel you have the best hand is to build a bigger pot.  There is nothing wrong with getting more chips to the center when you have the lead.  Aggressive play will enable you to win the maximum with your good hands.

Don’t Slow-Play

Some players choose just to call on the flop when they have a big hand such as a set or a straight.  They want to wait for the “expensive” rounds to bet their hand.  Slow-playing* can cause problems, however.  First, doing this will occasionally cost you the pot.  By just calling, you may allow an opponent to see a cheap turn card that produces a miracle** straight, or helps him develop a good draw.

*   Slow-play: Opting to not bet or raise with a good hand in the hope of trapping other   players on this or subsequent rounds.
**  Miracle:  When poker players use this word, they generally mean the catching of a longshot, as, say, an inside straight or a third deuce when the player holds 2-2 against a higher pair.

Then, when you do later decide to put some chips into the pot, you may find to your dismay that you are the one who has been trapped .

  A second reason not to slow-play is that players in lower-limit hold’em games typically call anyway.  Why play deceptively when you don’t have to?  Slow-playing is generally done in an attempt to gain later action on a hand you feel you won’t be able to get any action on if you play it aggressively right away.  However, you rarely run into this problem in the games we’re talking about, so go ahead and raise if someone bets.

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