Poker can be a hard teacher when it comes to learning from your mistakes – the lessons tend to be expensive! So it’s vital to reflect on your play and recognise when you have made one of the classic beginners poker mistakes in your game. It’s the only way to learn to avoid this weakness the next time you play.
Let’s take a look at the most common poker mistakes, and the online poker tips that can help you avoid them.
1. Don’t look for coin flips
Coin flips are when you’re relying on the fact that you, and another player, have an almost equal chance of winning, so you go all-in at the pre-flop stage. Typically in Hold’em, this will involve balancing the winning odds of a pocket pair that you possess, against the winning odds of overcards that may be held around the table.
While you may see players going “all in” in TV tournament play, this is not going to help you win cash games. Even a pair of 8s can face a daunting number of higher pairs in the game. So don’t follow this strategy until late in the game, when the number of higher overcards, or pairs, should have reduced. Taking big risks with small pairs, is a quick way to end up broke.
2. Don’t overplay
Cash management is a top skill in poker, and if you are playing 95% of the hands that are dealt, you are draining cash by playing hands that have no chance of winning. Your online poker strategy should involve making tough choices about what’s worth playing, even if that means you spend half the time folding, and watching the play. And when you get a good hand, you need to maximise the pot. That means your best online poker strategy, is not to raise too aggressively, since this may make more cautious players fold. You hope for a similar hand around the table that will keep someone in, and thus build up your possible winnings.
3. Don’t play without a good bankroll
In UK online poker, people frequently play with a very low bankroll. This affects their play for the worse. If you can’t afford to lose the money you’re playing with, or you can’t stay in the game if you lose a particular hand, your fear and caution can bring about the very losses you dread. You have to be willing to go all-in, if that’s what’s required to win the hand.
4. Don’t give your hand away through your bets
You’ll have realised early on, that the way you bet can tell the other players in the game, a lot about the hand you have. In particular, the size of your bet can be a signal. As described above, it’s possible to disguise a good hand by betting small, to keep other players contributing to the pot. This can be a reasonably sound strategy, but it has one important drawback. The longer people stay in, the higher the chance that one of them is going to draw a hand that beats yours.
On the other hand, another common poker mistake, is to raise by an amount that dwarfs the pot, and makes everyone fold. So look at what’s in the pot, and think about raising two or three times that level to start with. You’ll soon get a feel for what the game will bear.
5. Don’t underestimate how important position is
The dealer has the great advantage of acting last – and as the dealership moves round the table, everyone will get this advantage at some point during the session. The dealer is able to observe bets and responses as they go round the table, which can offer a huge advantage.
As you get better at playing poker, the quality of your game will improve – and so will the quality of your mistakes. Sophisticated professional players make mistakes too, but they tend to lose less on them, and to make them less often.