I played for a couple of hours tonight at the Friendship Club and won $5. The money wasn't so great, but I think I played very well and that's all I try to do nowadays - focus on making good decisions and the money will come... I hope.
Anyway, before the game started another player was making conversation and mentioned that in all of the poker books he's read, there are books on holdem and there are books on low-limit games, but as far as he could tell, there are no books that address low-limit holdem games with a big bet on the end. This is relevant because the "little game" at the Friendship is nominally a 3-6 holdem game with an optional $12 bet or raise on the last card. When I first started playing in this game, I hated that $12 bet because all it did was make the game unnecessarily expensive in my poor post-college point of view, especially when I was just learning the game myself, but now I see that bet as a useful tool for two very important reasons.
First, it provides improved implicit odds for drawing hands. A few more drawing hands become profitable because they can get paid off if they hit. This is primarily the reason I hated this bet when I started playing because I was trying to teach myself discipline and proper starting hands and that strategy was more vulnerable to bad beats from players with less discipline and poorer standards for starting hands than I had, but who nonetheless had a mathematical incentive to play with a weaker basic strategy than I. Now that I have a little experience and have improved a little bit, I find myself adapting to specific situations and not playing as rigidly as I once did. Accordingly, sometimes I now find myself in situations where the extra payoff at the end provides me an edge and I'm able to put the big bet to my own advantage. Mind you, this isn't a license for me to just start playing wild and as loose as my opponents, but it is a factor that allows me to be slightly more liberal in my calling standards when circumstances arise.
Second, the bet provides quite a strategic element to the game. It took me a while, but I eventually figured out that betting the maximize $12 on the end isn't necessarily the proper play all the time, especially if I am in early position and have the nuts or a hand that is a likely winner. Why? Because the bet represents scary strength to less sophisticated players and the last thing I want to do is scare off other players who might pay me off by calling a $6 bet but who might fold if I bet $12. This strategy is also very dependent on my own table image and my opinion of opponents - if they're going to call me anyway I might as well make the maximum bet no matter what. Similarly, there might be situations where I don't have the best hand and I don't want callers. In that case the $12 bet might be appropriate as a lead for the exact same reasons but in an opposite context.
To succeed at poker, you must have imagination and you must be able to think quickly. Playing "by the book" is a necessary step in learning, but eventually you have to start thinking on your own. Maybe there aren't any books that address the big bet on the end, but that doesn't mean you can't start thinking about it on your own.