I began this chapter with this idea, but I’m going to repeat it because it’s important.
When you make a hand that can win at showdown, the only difference between that hand and any other hand is its showdown value. If your hand never gets to showdown, you might as well have had two blank cards.
Therefore, you almost never want to bet a showdown hand with the goal of ending the hand. Save those bets for the times you have flopped a draw or nothing.
In general, “protecting your hand” is not the goal. You want to bet hands for value when you believe you can get called by worse hands. Many times when you bet, you just may end up getting value and protecting the hand at the same time. Great. That’s fine.
But you don’t want to take a hand with relatively little value (like Q-T on a Q-9-7 two-tone flop), and bet it hard to “protect” it. If you bet this hand hard, you’re essentially turning it into a bluff. You’re usually better off choosing hands without showdown value (e.g., 8-6 or a small flush draw on this flop) to bluff with, rather than top pair.