Before you can successfully control the pot when playing No Limit Texas Holdem, you first need to be able to assess the value of your hand. So before you decide what approach you are going to take, figure out what your cards are worth. Say for instance that you are holding AJ of diamonds and the flop comes jack of spades, king of diamonds and 8 of diamonds. Now with a flop like that you know that you most likely have the best hand as well as a nut flush draw. This means that the bigger the pot gets, the better for you.
If you have early position, you may want to check to see what other players are going to do. Having early position when you know you probably have the best hand is a very good thing. Early position not only means that you get free information but it also allows you to control the pot better by having the opportunity to check-raise other players to build the pot up. Especially if a player with later position chooses to bet and other players call. With a check raise you will most likely be able to get players on a draw to fold, hopefully leaving you with the best hand.
The example given above is a simplification. There are many other things you also need to take into consideration such as; how many players you are playing with, how those players have been playing (ie: tight, loose, bluffer etc.), what the other players’ chip stacks look like as well as what your own chip stack is looking like. Determining all of these things will assist you in knowing what play you want to make and how you want to go about controlling the size of the pot.
Now don’t make the mistake that many new poker players make by believing your top pair is good even if your kicker is crap. Too many players make this mistake and regret it immensely when the player they were up against shows the same top pair with a better kicker, Now if the player you are up against has proven to be a bluffer, staying in may be a pretty good strategy for you. However, if you have noticed that they play pretty tight and win most hands that go to showdown and they have bet, called or raised all the way, you may want to figure out how many hands you could beat and if there are more hands that can beat you than you can beat you may want to lay your hand down or in the very least try to control the pot by keeping the bets small.
Now if you are facing more than one player after the flop, you need to have a real good hand. If the community cards leave many draws out there, a big pot after the flop is okay, but if a you bet your hand all the way and on the river they stay with you, you can almost bet you are beat. The best way to control the pot is to control the bets. For instance, if you want a bigger pot, make bigger bets or by check raising. If you want to keep it small (like if you’re still drawing), bet it small. By making a small bet you will not only take control but if you get raised you can guess that they have already made their hand.
These techniques are not perfect and will not work all of the time. Rather they are here to help guide you through creating your own style and technique. Practice makes perfect so if one way doesn’t work for you, take note of it and tweak it until you find a style you’re comfortable with.
100% up to $3,000 Bonus
Bovada is our most recommended ONLINE CASINO and POKER ROOM for US players with excellent deposit options. Get your 100% signup bonus today.