Leverage in Poker refers to the act of placing a bet that has particular force against the other players because of the promise of future bets, not just the actual bet itself.
For example if a player has been playing quite loosely and is known to follow bets up with even bigger bets than any bet they place has significant leverage as the other players will fear further bets if called – making them more likely to fold. However a very tight player who only makes very conservative raises has very little leverage as there is not much for the other players to fear upon a raise other than the actual bet itself.
Using leverage is best and most effective in a no limit texas hold’em game in which you have a large stack. This way they can never be certain how many of those chips you would be willing to put in the pot and furthermore know that even if you call them all-in and lose you could still stay in the game (making you more likely to do it in their eyes).
How to gain leverage?
To gain leverage in a game of poker you must display aggressive betting tendancies to the other players. By making large bets and re-raising players you are able to gain significant leverage on your bets and therefore control the pot. Players who make a single bet and then end up checking on the river will not gain any leverage to their future bets.
If you have a short stack it is very hard to have any kind of leverage on your bets as you are not seen as any kind of a threat by the other players. However it is also hard to gain any leverage over a short stacked player as they are much more likely to commit themselves to the pot if they get a decent hand.
How to use leverage?
In essence, leverage is basically a tool you can use to create fear and create a dangerous image when you are trying to win with a less-than-ideal hand. Just make sure you only use leverage in the right situations and do so wisely.