How to control pot size
Controlling the pot size in small stakes poker is about keeping specific players in the hand (whether it is you or an opponent) based on the circumstances. If you have a decent hand, but one that could easily be beaten if your opponent hits his flush on the river, it is best to keep the pot small so that you won't be committed to staying in the hand.
Conversely, if you hit the nut flush on the turn, you have to keep your head and not scare everyone out of the pot.
However, it would be ideal to ensure that the pot grows as large as you can get it before the showdown. This requires some skilled pot controlling.
Controlling Pot Size - Keep the Pot Small
Naturally, as a pot grows to large proportions, it becomes difficult to let go of, and more disappointing if lost to an opponent. Losing a killer pot can lead to tilt, bankroll mismanagement, or simply a general sense of failure that can impact other areas of a poker player's life.
However, maintaining a measure of control over the size of the pot can help prevent the potentially calamitous result of over-betting a mediocre hand. Smaller pot sizes make for easier decisions about a hand that may or may not become strong enough to win the pot.
Position plays a key role in controlling the pot size.
From an early position it is best to keep the pot small, as your position is at a disadvantage for determining the strength of other player's hands.
If you've got a flush draw with top pair in early position, with a gut-shot straight on the board after the turn, it is best to keep that pot small enough that you can afford to lose it. This will give you the opportunity to pay for the river card that may hit your flush, and beat the straight if it hit your opponent's hand. So you check, and the button bets. If the button doesn't bet more than you are willing to lose, then you call.
However, if he bets more than you can afford to lose on a hand you haven't even hit yet, you fold. This is controlling the pot size to keep it small.
Controlling Pot Size - Make the Pot Large
The poker fates have smiled upon you, and you hit the nut flush on the turn from the button. The small blind bets twice the minimum, and everyone else folds. Your first instinct may be to push all-in, knowing you've got this hand all sewn up. But chances are your opponent isn't willing to pay that much to see the last card.
Again, position is very important to controlling the pot size. If you are on the button, you are in the optimal position for building the pot. If you call, your opponent stays in the hand, allowing him the opportunity to improve his hand - and bet on it.
Let the river come in, and if the small blind checks, you probably won't be able to get much more out of him, so place a value bet to entice a few more chips out of him. However, if he raises, go ahead and re-raise as much as you think he is willing to pay to see your cards. That is one way to keep the pot size growing in small stakes poker.
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