More aggressive players do not always wait until they have the best hand to put in a raise, they sometimes raise earlier in the hand, either to push out their opponents there and then, or to buy themselves some extra time and, in the long run, save some money. Let’s look at an example:
You hold A(S),J(S)
and the flop comes Q(H),6(S),3(S)
Since, at present, you have no hand, you might think that you would just check and try to see the next card for free (and sometimes that might be right). However, some players would reason that, if another spade hits the board, they have made the top Flush and they put in a big raise to make their opponents guess whether they have the best hand now or whether they are on a draw.
The advantage of the raise here is two-fold. Firstly, everyone may fold, thinking that you have a very strong hand. This being so, your semi-bluff (you have nothing now, but the turn or river could bring you a monster) takes down the pot and you don’t even need to see the next cards to find out if you really were winning. The second advantage is that, if you get a caller or callers, they are unlikely to make a bet after the turn card since they will fear that you will raise them again. So, often they just check to the raiser (check around to you waiting to see what you will do) and you then check yourself and get to see the river card without having had to pay any more money. In other words, your earlier investment has had the effect of paying for two cards rather than possibly having to pay to see both the turn and then pay again, by calling bets, to see the river.
Even if you do get to see the river and still a spade has not appeared and given you the Flush, because you raised on the flop your opponents may believe that you genuinely do still have the best hand and it may be that one more decent-sized bet from you at the end may be enough to get them to lay down their cards and concede the hand to you on a complete bluff.
All in all, you can see that to check looks safe and conservative but to raise has so many psychological advantages. It’s up to you how you want to play – and you certainly do not need to make the same play every time.
Intention: try to win the pot now or make players pay too dearly to draw to their hand.