If you get worried after being called when making a bet for value you may be overplaying your hand
There are two major reasons to bet in No Limit Holdem—to get called by a worse hand (value) and to get a better hand to fold (bluff). As simple as these concepts seem a lot of inexperienced players constantly put themselves in way ahead way behind situations do to their overaggressive action or their large bet sizing.
I do a call-in show on my training site CrushLivePoker.com where listeners can discuss hands with me over the phone from their recent play. Many times the callers say something similar to “I bet big so that he knew I had something. Once I was called I knew I was beat”. This way have thinking is fundamentally flawed when choosing a correct bet sizing or action. You never want to bet or raise for information with regards to your opponents hand. You only want to get called by worse or get better to fold. If you make an action that does not achieve one of these two things chances are that particular action is not going to be the best play in that situation.
I actually made a mistake similar to this in a recent hand that I played at the Commerce Casino’s $5-$10NL game last week. It was about 1am on a Saturday and the game was good. I had just moved over to the table and sat with $1400. The main villain in the hand had me covered and was a very good professional, someone that was capable of making big lay downs. A recreational loose player limped in under the gun and I raised to $40 from UTG1 with A♦ T♦. Five players ended up calling including the villain in the cutoff. The flop came out A♠ T♥ 3♣ giving me top two pair.
Obviously I was very happy with this flop as I thought I could get a lot of value from single paired aces so I bet $145. The villain in the cutoff called, which I was not thrilled about. This was not because I thought he had me beat but because I thought he would make the right decision in the rest of the hand and that I would be forced to play my hand rather “face up” because of the nature of the multiway field. It got folded back around to the limper, who started with $800, and he also called. This limper was a pretty poor player and because he was closing the flop action could have been calling rather wide.
The turn brought in the 2♣ putting a backdoor flush draw out. The limper checked and this time I decided to bet $420. The villain called again, and at that point I knew that I had made a mistake. You see this villain was an extremely skilled player and I highly doubt that he would ever call my turn bet with a hand like AJ or AQ. His 3 betting percentage with AK is almost 100% versus me as well, so there really were not many worse hands that he could have called me with on the turn, with a third player in the pot that I beat for that bet sizing. Even though the pot had about $600 in it I really should have bet only about $250 as the limper only had $600 left in his stack. That way there the good player could possibly call again with just an ace. But when I bombed the turn, even with top two pair, at that moment I knew that the good player had a set or had made a straight. The action got back around to the limper who moved all-in for $600 total, not reopening the action (Commerce 100% rule). I, of course completed the bet, as did the villain in position.
The river rolled off the beautiful A♣ and with about $750 left in my stack I moved all-in. The villain in the hand tanked forever and made an incredible laydown with 4♠ 5♠ saying that he thought at least one of us now either had backed into a flush or a full house. In fact, after the river the good player was in third place as the limper showed down 33.
Usually I am good about choosing action and sizing that does not put me in a way ahead way behind situation but after the hand I realized how unnecessary the amount of the turn bet was, especially since the bad player I was targeting for value (limper) was short.