A common error made by many novice (and a shockingly high amount of those who should know better) players is feeling the need to participate on every hand dealt. A successful player only plays 20-30% of dealt hands. Much like a professional baseball player who is able to sign a multimillion pound contract by maintaining a batting average of .300, the successful poker player knows that the majority of the time another player will walk away with the pot.
With that in mind it is important to play aggressively once you get a hand that you are confident in. Remember, 70% of the time other players are ready to fold in search of a hand that they think favors them! Be ready to force the weak players out with your aggressive bets. If you are confident you have the strongest hand in the game, raise the bet! The main reason for being aggressive is to have those with weak hands fold early on, as some tend to hang on looking for the miracle draw to win the hand.
By forcing their hand early you are lowering the chance of those miracle hands and also ensuring you win the pot. It is always better to win a smaller pot than take a chance that another players draws that miracle hand late in the game.
Your table image is also very important
Build a strong table image by not bluffing early in your play. Bluffing early marks you as a bluffer and people will call your bluff 100% of the time. Play good cards and throw away junk cards, have the other players at the table see you are only playing strong hands. This sets up the opportunity for you to use a good bluff later in the game as you have conditioned the others players into thinking that when you raise you have the cards to win the hand.
Studying other players and their betting behavior is equally as important. It is too easy to get wrapped up in your own game and miss the tells the other players may be exhibiting. Knowing if they bet aggressively or typically call with a strong hand empowers you and your betting decisions.
Most important of all is know when to quit! You should always be sharp and focused when at the betting table. Fatigue leads to mental errors and ends up costing you money. Frustration is another sign that you are ready to call it a night, or at least take a break. Play smart and you will win smart.