Pre-flop betting is more important than you might guess. Many players make plays for a pot from time to time, but making plays at the pot consistently is something that doesn’t happen often.
Players who always seem to have a good hand because they raise pre-flop probably don’t. I know that this seems risky but in tournament play it is what matters. This risky play is calculated by the player to throw you off.
How many times do you hit the flop? I mean at least with one card, and even if you do not, if you were the aggressor pre-flop, you bet after the flop. Many players will fold to this pressure. This is not to say that you should go all-in, just make a bet that is between ½ to a pot sized bet.
When you make this bet, many times players will bow out of your way even if you didn’t hit the flop. The reason for this is that they didn’t hit the flop either and you are showing power. This power may get a couple of callers, however, you get just a bit less when the next cards comes. That will look like you are trying to keep them in the pot, not that your hand is weak. If they haven’t folded by now, most likely they are on a draw or have a made hand.
On the river, you can make another bet which will generally force them out.
The only draw back of this type of play is if your opponent hits a straight or set and is just drawing you in. Remember if you have nothing and are raised it is easy for you to lay down your rag (hand).