Playing a perfect poker game is hard. Even the most seasoned players make mistakes, but certainly not as often as newer players. In this article, we will examine the type of errors poker players make regularly. If you can avoid these mistakes, your performance will improve significantly.
Going all in on a bluff
I have a personal beef with players to go all in when they shouldn’t. While this aggressive play is probably the most exciting play in poker, it is also the most overused play. More specifically, it is used inappropriately. I frequently see players going all in on a bluff for $1000 in a small $100 pot and I can’t help but wonder why. The reward doesn’t warrant the risk. What happens when someone has a strong hand and they call you? You know what happens… You lose. And for what? If you want to bluff at a pot like this, you can do so without putting everything on the line. A $100 bet would likely suffice to take down that pot, unless there is a draw available for someone chasing a flush or a straight. If that’s the case, than a $200 bet would suffice. The idea is to bet enough so that opponents don’t have the pot odds to call you. If you don’t know what pot odds are, this is definitely a topic you want to research.
Holding on to a good starting hand after a flop that doesn’t help you
Many players think their A-K is a great hand, and they are correct. It’s a great starting hand. But when the flop is 4-5-6, it’s perhaps not such a great hand anymore. Anyone with a 4, a 5 or a 6 has you beat at this point. Plus someone could have a flush or be on a flush draw. I’m not saying you should throw away you’re a-K automatically, but you shouldn’t invest too much in the pot either. If everyone checks before you, you can attempt to steal the pot with a large bet. After all, your Ace high might take it. But if someone calls or raises, then you need to slow down. When I face a raise in this situation, I often fold. If I face a caller, I become suspicious and unless I the turn card helps me, I’ll check instead of throwing more money at the pot. The worst thing you can do is throw more money at it when someone else is interested in the hand, because they probably have you beat.
You have less chances of winning as you face more opponents. Even when you go all in with A-A pre-flop, there are no guarantees. Ideally, when you go all in, you face a single opponent to reduce the luck factor. Anyone can flop two pairs and destroy your A-A. It’s much less likely to happen if you’re facing just one opponent as opposed to four.
Playing the lottery
Let’s say that you’re playing a Sit N Go with 9 other players. You have 4 players that are all in before you and you have JJ. Do you go all in as well? Absolutely not. This is what I like to call “the lottery” and if that’s what excites you, then perhaps you should give up poker and take up bingo. With so many players all in, you know that at least one person has an ace. It’s also very likely that someone has a K or a Q, and it’s quite probable that someone has a higher pocket pair than you do. Be realistic. While theirs is a massive pot up for grabs before you, leaving it up to chance is not the way of a good poker player. Maybe you could win this pot, but more often than not you won’t. Folding is the better option. Save your chips, there will be other less risky opportunities in the future.
Checking instead of betting
There’s two ways to win a pot in poker. The first is to have the best hand, and the second is to make everyone else fold regardless of what hand you have. When you sense weakness at the table, this is an opportunity to bluff and take down the pot. If everyone checks to you and you just check back, you’re letting players catch free cards that could help their hands. Instead, try betting. If you think they have nothing and you make a large bet, they will fold. Opponents may suspect that you are bluffing, but if they don’t’ have a hand to call, they can suspect all they want. It is completely irrelevant and they will still fold. That’s why aggressive play is better than passive play. But in order to be a good aggressive player, you need to know WHEN to be aggressive. This had to do with your ability to read opponents so I would suggest you read up on this topic.