Poker is one of those games where there will always be more room for improvement. No matter how much you have already learned and played, you will never stop learning. You may be lacking in certain aspects of poker that prevent you from increasing your profits. If you are willing to dedicate more of your time to poker and become a regular player, then it is crucial to first identify the aspects of your game that need to be improved. In this article, we have compiled the top 10 most common Texas Hold’em mistakes and how you can avoid them. These mistakes are not only typical for beginners and recreational players but also for regular poker grinders.
Even though will we mainly focus on Texas Hold’em mistakes, most of these aspects are also relevant to all forms of Hold’em and other poker formats. Without any further ado, let’s jump into our analysis.
1. Playing Too Many Hands
Many new poker players feel like it is required to play as many hands as possible. Some beginners don’t fold during pre-flops at all. One of the main reasons behind such behavior is that they are simply impatient. They want to have more action and don’t want to look weak in front of their opponents. However, in other cases, it is simply due to the lack of poker knowledge. Many beginners have a tough time identifying hands that are not worth playing with. For example, many amateurs will think that any Jack, Queen, King, or Ace will give them an excellent chance of winning.
By playing too many hands, you will hit the flop at a smaller percentage and there is no guarantee that your hand is the best if you do manage to hit the flop. This is one of the main reasons why you could be losing chips. However, this mistake is relatively easy to avoid. You need to stay disciplined and stick to the proper starting hand ranges.
2. Overplaying Marginal Hands
When playing poker it is important to remember that the value of your hand is relative with regards to what your opponents have. Therefore, another really common mistake is playing hands that look strong on the surface, but in reality, will be easily dominated by many stronger hands. For example, cards with bad kickers such as K3, Q2, and A3. Also, we can say that high hand combinations such as KJ or QT are also not that good.
Don’t get us wrong, these hands are definitely not bad, however, they are not worth “fighting” for. By overplaying these hands, you are basically bluffing. While your opponent may fold sometimes, in other cases you will be met with a stronger hand at a showdown that makes you lose your chips. Our advice is simple. Don’t be too aggressive with such hands and play them for what they are worth.
3. Playing Scared
Even though many players suffer from being too reckless and aggressive, we have decided to talk about a less obvious psychological issue. Many players (especially beginners) play with fear. This all comes down to the amount of experience. If a player has not played many hands, then they will be scared to make a mistake and lose. For this reason, many players will fold until they get an “unbeatable” hand. Fear can also make it harder to identify bluffs as you will be tricked into thinking that everyone who raises has a great hand. The only solution to this problem is playing more poker and gaining more and more experience.
4. Improper Bet Sizing
Understanding bet sizing is a crucial step in learning how to play poker successfully and increase your profits. Even though this skill can only be perfected with enough experience, it is possible to fix some most common betting mistakes that players make every day. In many cases, inexperienced players will bet at the extremes. Meaning that they will either bet too little or too much money. This greatly depends on the action of your opponents and your position at the table. For example, it is unwise to raise the minimum pre-flop when several players have entered the game. Also, making drastic raises (such as 6x the size of blinds) when you are first to enter a hand is a mistake.
Miss-sizing after the flop is quite common as well. For example, beginners will often bet too little with big hands when they are still many players in the game. This greatly undervalues their hand and directly decreases the potential profits. On the other hand, many players will also bet too much in order to protect their hand. The key to correct bet sizing is to understand that you want to bet an amount that maximizes your winnings and minimizes the number of chips at risk.
5. Failing to Table-Select
This point relates to more experienced players as amateurs can afford to play in almost any game they like at any stakes they can afford. However, those that want to turn poker into their source of income, should take table selection seriously. If you plan on playing poker seriously, you should accept table-select as a part of your “job” and do it. In other words, you should look for games that have a higher chance of making you profitable. The last thing you want to do is jump straight into the action and sit at the table with players that are much better than you. While it may be time-consuming and annoying to table-select, it definitely pays off. If you
6. Not Thinking About Opponent’s Ranges
Knowing the ranges of your own cards is only one of the key pieces when playing Texas Hold’em. You should always think about what cards your opponents may have instead of just focusing on your own hand. Not thinking about your opponents’ ranges can make you a very easy target to beat. While it is quite tough to master this skill, it is crucial to learn how to assign ranges to players. Otherwise, you will just keep on guessing what you are up against, and this is a recipe for disaster.
The best way to start is by simply assigning your opponent the most likely range of cards based on their behavior during pre-flop. Then, based on their later actions, you can exclude certain combinations and narrow down your list. By the time you reach the turn, you will have a solid idea of what your opponent may have and this is very useful information.
7. Letting Emotions Take Over
We are all humans and we all have emotions. Poker is an emotional game with many ups and downs. Sometimes you will get unlucky and sometimes you are up against better players. However, you can’t allow your emotions to take over at the poker table. The moment you do that, you will start making poor choices and will lose even more chips. “Tilt” is a poker term for a bad state of mind that directly influences your decision-making. Recognizing this state is the first step in stopping it and getting back on track. However, it may not be as evident. You can go on tilt from a streak of winning hands. You will start playing more recklessly and most likely lose shortly after. The best thing to do in such situations is to take a break. Do something else and come back to poker when you have given yourself some rest. It is an excellent way to cool down and stop making poor decisions.
8. Relying on Stats too Much
Many regulars use tracking software and HUDs. These kinds of tools can be quite useful by giving you a better idea of your opponents’ behavior. They will show you their playing styles and how they act in certain situations. But, you should not rely solely on stats. There are certain things that the computer can not predict. For example, a player that does not usually bluff may start doing so. There can be multiple reasons behind it. This player can be tilting due to a couple of bad beats. We are not saying that you should not take advantage of stats if they are available. We are saying that they should one of the many factors that guide your decisions.
9. Bluffing Too Much
Most players that are new to the game think that poker is all about bluffing and tricking your opponents. Of course, bluffing is a huge part of poker and quite frankly it is quite satisfying to bluff someone. However, bluffing is a very hard skill to master. You should always remain unpredictable. If you bluff too much, then your bluff will not be believable, and more experienced opponents will quickly snatch your stack. For a bluff to work, you need to tell a believable story with your bets. This way, you will represent a certain hand rather than simply showing aggression.
10. Not Adjusting Your Strategy
It is crucial to have a well-defined strategy while playing poker and following it. However, it is as important to adjust your strategy based on how your opponents play the game. You should be able to deviate from your game plan when a certain situation arises. For example, if an aggressive player joins your table, then you won’t be able to steal a bunch of pots before the flop. If that was your strategy before, you need to adapt and change it. There are numerous ways of how you can adjust your strategy against different players. While it is quite tricky to do, especially for beginners, it is probably one of the most important skills in poker.
Most of the mistakes described in this article are intertwined and lead to one another. This can put you in a vicious cycle that is very hard to get out of. We hope that this article has helped you recognize some of your mistakes when playing poker. Mistakes can prove costly at the poker table, but you should always see them as an opportunity to learn (especially if you are a beginner). After all, recognizing your mistakes is the most important step in correcting them and becoming a better poker player.