Remember that when you are too chicken to bet in a game of no limit hold’em poker, you will never win consistently. Checking and calling will not get you anywhere. Betting is critical since this will let you know how your cards compare with the cards of your opponents. When you do not bet, it will be very difficult for you to read other poker players on the table since they are doing all the decision making.
Remember that if you push your chips to the center too frequently, you might find your stack getting lower and lower as the game progresses. How do you bet and at the same time not sacrifice much of your chips? You need to do probe bets. These are bets which are just small enough to dictate the tempo of the game and get an idea of the strengths or possible weaknesses of your opponents.
When you make a probe bet, it should be about 20 to 30% of the size of the pot. This makes your opponent on the other end to decide whether he will call, fold, or raise. When an opponent calls, you can get a hunch that he might have a low or maybe middle pair or he might have a possible draw and would like to see the next card without spending much. When another player raises, you are most likely beaten or at least that is what he wants to you feel so you have to gauge if you have to fold your cards or press on. When a player folds, then lucky you because you have just taken a pot without putting at risk much of your chips.
When you are against excellent poker players though, making probe bets can be dangerous, too. Experienced poker players will let you do your probe bets but they will not let you do it often and will make sure that you pay for that kind of game. Soon enough they will be making raises, not worry at all about your bets and start draining your pocket.
Probe bets can be a very useful poker technique to know your opponent’s hand but use it wisely and sparingly when you are opening the round of betting.