Poker Basics

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There is a related concept. If early bets are much smaller than later bets, you usually shouldn't throw in a small raise with a big hand. You may put people on guard so that even if they don't fold immediately, they will when the bets increase in later rounds. You're likely to get more action on your big hands by slow playing them. Conversely, with a large increase in bets from one round to another, you may decide to put in extra action with a weaker hand on an early, cheap betting round to create the wrong impression later when the bets are expensive. Thus, you should consider not only the amount in the pot now but also how much the bets are now compared to what they may be later. You might check a big hand early to win big bets later, and on the other hand, you might bet with a weaker hand early in hopes that your opponents will check later to give you a free card.

Obviously, you can better afford to disguise your hand in early rounds in pot-limit and no-limit games than in limit games, since both the size of the pot and the size of the bets may increase enormously from one round of betting to the next. With a big hand and a lot of money in front of you, you can check and give your opponents many more free cards. You are not so concerned about protecting the money in the pot as you are about getting paid off when you bet a much larger amount later. Furthermore, it costs too much to protect small pots, especially when you have only a fair hand. To win them, you need to make a considerably bigger bet than you would in limit games, and so in no-limit you would tend to give more free cards even when you are not altogether happy about it.