Controlling the Pot
I was going to stick my head above the parapet and talk about some NL strategy today. Specifically pot-size management. But being a cowardy cowardy custard, instead I've just done some good old googling and found texts from others who explain it far better than me.
Let's start with a quote from the excellent Little Green Book, which I've read several times and is one my favourite poker books...
I will rarely play a big pot without a big hand - Phil Gordon
Another great player gives an example of what you're trying to avoid...
top pair doesn't even resemble a Big Hand - John Juanda
Ah yes, but both those quotes are from Tournament play, does this apply to cash games ?
Here's a decent post about why controlling the size of pot is important, where the original poster questions whether it has value in small stakes cash games
Controlling the pot allows other's calls to be bad and minimizes your investment in cases where getting called is only marginally +EV
Pokey's hand history examples in this thread are particularly useful...
I exert maximum folding equity against mediocre hands and also avoid paying off draws that make it on the river
And finally, back with the man I quoted first, Phil Gordon talks about how much to bet to help you achieve control...
When I'm thinking about my actions after the flop or turn, I look to the "texture" of the board - i.e., what cards are in play, and how might they interact with my opponent's likely starting hands - to help determine if and how much I will bet.
Basically, if you can control how big a pot gets when you've got strong but vulnerable hands you're going to limit the effects of variance on your roll. Poker isn't about always getting all your money in on the flop when you're ahead, it's often a bit more subtle than that.
Do you think Phil Ivey makes all those final tables by going allin every time he's a 75-25 favourite on the flop ? No, he'll control the risk, and control the pot. He's winning his hands with less risk, and less risk is a good thing.