Betting to protect your hand is one of the most important bets that you can make in poker. If you have a vulnerable hand you must protect it. There are a lot of players out there that will call you no matter what you bet with the slightest chance of winning. If they have an out they will put as much money they need to in the pot to catch it. There isn’t much you can do against these players, but for the rest of them there is something you can do to protect your hand.
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Naturally any beginner always wants to slow play when they have good hands and play aggressive when they don’t. Not only I this the biggest tell in poker, but it is also a very good way to lose with your good hand. There is nothing more annoying than listening to someone complain and cry about getting a bad beat, especially when they didn’t even bet their hand to protect it.
If someone has a straight draw (gut shot or not) that they manage to catch on the river and beat your trips with you need to ask yourself a question before you get upset. That question is, did you bet to protect your hand? That doesn’t mean betting a couple big blinds. If you are giving your opponent the right pot odds to call then that is your own fault. You have to bet enough to get those kinds of hands out of the way.
Remember that most of the time these draws are not going to win. An inside straight draw only gives your opponent 4 outs. Of course you have a huge advantage on them. You want these players to call you, but you do not want them to be around for free. There has to be a price for the drawers to pay in order to catch their cards. If they end up catching their hand then good for them; let them keep doing that and you will win 85% of the time they try to do that.
The main point is that you cannot allow your opponents to draw out on you for free. If you get a bad beat and you didn’t bet to protect your hand then you can only blame yourself. Just think about how many times you have heard players say “man I would have had a straight…I knew I should of called”. Well, if you did not give them a reason to fold then they wouldn’t have had to make a stupid comment like that. Of course they should have folded; they had an 85% chance of losing that hand.
The only way you can have any control over what happens to you in a poker game is with your betting and decision making. Both of these give you control over your opponents. Make better decisions then your opponents and you will have control. You can and should bet your good hands to protect them. Slow playing is good sometimes but the majority of the time betting is the way to go. Make your opponents pay for their draws and high hopes
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