New poker players often make similar mistakes, but these leaks can be easily fixed once they are recognized.
So push play (or continue reading) and we’ll cover the 10 most common mistakes beginner players continue to make – and show you how to fix them if you are making any of these blunders yourself.
I have been actively playing poker for nearly two decades, and throughout my journey, I have noticed that new players consistently fall into the same traps. If you are new to poker strategy, stick around, as this will be helpful for you.
Note that these mistakes are in no specific order.
Playing Too Many Hands Preflop
Let us begin with the first mistake: playing too many hands before the flop.
As a novice, it can be challenging to distinguish which hands are strong and which are just too weak in various situations.
For example, understanding when to play small suited connectors or certain suited hands like King-Jack or Ace-Ten can be perplexing.
Playing too many hands before the flop can lead to weaker starting ranges, resulting in more losses and confusion during postflop play. And of course, this can hamper your overall win rate. Furthermore, this issue primarily affects players who call raises before the flop, especially when they call with hands that perform better by 3-betting or folding instead.
To address this leak in your game, I recommend checking out The GTO Ranges App from Red Chip Poker, which offers open raising ranges for every game and position. It provides valuable insight into which hands to play, in different situations, and can greatly enhance your strategy.
The Mistake Of Ignoring Position
The second mistake is disregarding position, particularly before the flop.
This error often goes hand in hand with playing too many hands preflop.
It is crucial to recognize that playing more hands from later positions holds significant advantages, such as being able to act last postflop and being able to win more pots uncontested.
Playing many hands from early or middle positions often leads to being out of position (OOP) or facing multiple opponents postflop, which can complicate your decision-making process.
Understanding the importance of position allows you to take control during a hand more effectively and make better decisions regarding when to apply pressure or take free cards.
Therefore, it is essential to assess your likelihood of being in position before considering which hands to play and adjust your pre-flop strategy accordingly.
If you suspect you are likely to be OOP, or worse, OOP in a multiway pot, postflop: consider other options before getting involved preflop.
Calling Too Many Weak Hands Postflop
Mistake number three involves calling with too many weak hands after the flop.
New players tend to play passively and continue calling with weak hands, often sticking around for too long postflop. While it is crucial not to swing too far in the opposite direction and only continue postflop when holding nuttish hands, it is equally important for beginners to understand when and why they should be calling.
By avoiding excessive calling before the flop, this problem can be mitigated to some extent. However, this issue may still arise when you face raises postflop even after being the preflop aggressor.
Carefully considering the rationale behind your calling decisions and seeking a good reason to continue can help you avoid unnecessary losses.
Not Paying Attention to Opponents
The fourth mistake is not paying sufficient attention to opponents.
It is understandable that as a new poker player you may find yourself overwhelmed with the number of aspects you could/should focus on in a hand. However, neglecting your opponents and their tendencies can be detrimental.
Your edge in poker stems from understanding your opponents’ weaknesses and capitalizing on them. By observing their playing style, you can adapt your strategy accordingly.
For instance, if your opponent tends to fold too frequently, you should be bluffing more often. If they are super fishy, you can confidently discard weaker bluffs and just focus more on value betting thinly.
Ignoring your opponents leaves heaps of money on the table and also allows skilled players to exploit your lack of awareness.
Whenever you catch yourself solely fixated on your own hand and board texture, take note of the situation. This observation will prompt you to analyze the hand afterward and develop a more analytical mindset that accounts for your opponents’ behavior.
Being Too Emotional While Playing Poker
Playing with excessive emotions is the fifth mistake frequently committed by new players.
Frustration and excitement often influence their decision-making process, causing them to base their actions on their current emotions rather than rational thinking.
Poker players must learn to detach from the emotional fluctuations within the game and approach situations objectively instead.
Developing emotional control allows you to make decisions based on accurate information rather than being swayed by temporary emotions.
This skill takes time to cultivate but has broader implications beyond poker, benefitting other areas of decision-making as well. Being able to separate emotions from logical reasoning will greatly contribute to your success in the game.
Bluffing Too Often Postflop
The sixth common mistake is bluffing too frequently.
New players are often divided into two categories:
- Some are extremely risk-averse and only bet with strong hands.
- Others tend to play too many hands before the flop, snowballing into excessive bluffs postflop.
Very few players bluff at an appropriate frequency.
Both scenarios can be problematic. Excessive bluffing demonstrates a lack of understanding of when and how to bluff effectively. Moreover, they may incorrectly turn potentially valuable hands into bluffs, such as top pair with a weak kicker or second/third pair hands.
These errors usually stem from incorrect preflop hand selection and an incomplete understanding of what constitutes a profitable bluff.
For more help with this, read this complete guide on the math behind bluffing in poker.
Not Betting For Value Enough
The seventh mistake is failing to bet for value. This might seem contradictory to the previous point, but it is a common issue among new players.
New poker players tend to comprehend betting with the nuts bluffing, but they struggle with assessing the value of their strong yet not unbeatable hands.
For example, holding top pair with a mediocre kicker or an overpair when a draw completes can create confusion. In these instances, new players often opt to check, unknowingly missing out on crucial value bets against opponents who would gladly call with lesser hands.
This mistake can absolutely destroy postflop profitability.
Ignoring Pot Odds
The eighth mistake involves neglecting pot odds.
Although poker may not appeal to everyone due to the mathematics involved, a basic understanding of key concepts like pot odds is essential.
Pot odds come into play in various situations, such as facing preflop all-ins, postflop raises, and of course postflop bets.
Being able to quickly calculate your pot odds allows you to determine how often you should continue and make decisions based on the likelihood of winning the hand. Ignoring pot odds entirely will prove detrimental to your success in poker, where mathematical principles play a vital role.
Still Not "Getting" Poker Math?
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To enhance your ability to calculate pot odds efficiently during real-time play, be sure to bookmark my free pot odds calculator to practice scenarios during off-table study.
Lack Of Bankroll Management
The ninth mistake to avoid is neglecting bankroll management. Although playing at the lowest stakes might not necessitate an extensive bankroll, it is beneficial to consider your poker bankroll and plan for future progression.
Improper bankroll management can lead to playing at higher stakes prematurely, resulting in continuous losses of bankrolls.
To counter this, it is recommended to start with a bankroll consisting of 20 buy-ins for cash games or 100 average buy-ins for tournaments. Specifically, if you play $5 buy-in tournaments, a starting bankroll of $500 is advised.
Deviating from these guidelines may lead to busting bankrolls too easily given the increased risk of ruin.
Taking calculated shots at higher stakes can be considered within reasonable limits, while playing smaller stakes when your bankroll is running low is a more prudent decision.
For a comprehensive guide on taking shots, watch this video next:
Not Getting Advice Soon Enough.
Finally, the tenth mistake involves failing to review hands and seek advice promptly.
While new players may track their overall wins and losses, they often neglect to focus on specific hands or seek advice on strategy. By diligently reviewing hands and seeking constructive feedback, you can significantly improve your gameplay quicker.
Joining a community of like-minded players, such as the Red Chip Poker Discord, provides an opportunity to share hands, gain advice, and engage in insightful poker discussions.
Embracing a supportive community can accelerate your poker development, allowing you to gain knowledge and experience from other players.
Additionally, recording and assessing your own hands will help you train your analytical thinking and elevate your understanding of the game.
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