Strategy / Common Rookie Mistakes in Poker- Part 1

Common Rookie Mistakes in Poker- Part 1Lundi, 19 mai 2014

Poker, specially in its no limit forms, can rapidly become cruel. A good session for a few hours and then BOOM ! One or two mistakes at the wrong time and a winning session becomes a negative one. The natural reaction of most players is to blame bad luck: “ If only I had not had two smaller pairs” or “ If only he had not completed his flush!” will be enough to justify the roller coaster rides in his bankroll. Although we already know variance can indeed have a direct effect on short term results, still many tiny mistakes can often trigger this downswing. Let’s take a look at these numerous errors that diferenciate winning players from losing ones.

Patience

Specially with beginners, lack of patience is without a doubt the most common source of the costly mistakes they make. A newcomer should play a limited enough range of hands to allow him to get rid of all the combos that will put him in bad spots after the flop. In fact, a novice player often will be outplayed by more experienced players after the flop.

Consequently, it is better to stick to very good hands, like big pairs and big cards ( AA-AK-KK-QQ-AQ) as well as suited connectors ( like 89 of spades) wich are easy to trow away when the flop misses them. Unfortunately, beginners often do the opposite. A player raises, they look at their A-9 and decide to follow. Flop comes A-7-4 and their opponent bets out for 2 or 3 betting intervals. Beginner calls and finds he has been beaten by a better ace. He then reflects that this was unavoidable: “ We both had aces, I certainly was not going to lay it down”. But, by restraining himself to play only big aces, HE would take advantage of newcomers who play too many bad hands like A-x, A-10, KJ, QJ, etc.

Setting goals

This may seem easy but it’s very counter-productive for a player to arrive at the table mostly to have fun. The main goal of poker is to win money, not to win every hand! The ego of many a beginner has often stopped them from saving one or two rounds of betting when they are beaten. Of course, sometimes they find out their opponent was bluffing and so they think they are heroes. Nevertheless, over the long haul, they will lose systematically by pursuing with their hands till the showdown. We must keep in mind the ultimate goal of the game.

Tough decisions

Any mistake in poker is costly, of course. However, no player is perfect and playing perfect poker is impossible. The main goal then is to make fewer mistakes than our opponents. When facing a very tough decision for a lot of your chips, folding is seldom the worst decision. You will sometimes find out that it was not the optimal decision. But you will still have chips to try and find better situations in the future, hands easier to play.

Bluffing

Bluffing should be used occasionally as a balancing part of your game. A bluff must be constructed intelligently, taking into consideration all possible scenarios and how to react to them. Missing the flop and consistently betting large hoping the opponent will fold is the perfect recipe for disaster. Of course you will win many small pots with no hand whatsoever. But dont fool yourself! Add up all the small pots this tactic made you win and substract the big pots lost when your opponent called. Bluffs made too often and without a good structure become an endless pit for your chips.

Other players have the same problem but in reverse. They seldom bluff and dont abuse it. But when someone else bets, they instantly think they are being bluffed! So they call with marginal hands and lose big pots with hands they should have trown away a long time ago. This is an even bigger problem than over blufflers because playing like this they dont even get the chance to win when their opponent folds.

Aggressiveness

Without a doubt, agressiveness is a key factor in winning poker. It doesn’t mean you should go out and bet and raise with every decision you make! There is two types of mistakes related to aggressiveness for newcomers.

Some players lack agressiveness. They play timid and just call their opponents' bets. Doing so, they never maximize their gains when they have the best hand, but still pay full price when they are beaten.
Finally, there is those who know the importance of being aggressive but have no idea on how to measure it. Unless you have a great knowledge of your opponents and are a highly superior player, playing most hands by trying to keep the upper hand will lead to the evaporation of your stack of chips. A newcomer must start by playing agressively a very limited number of hands. With time, he will learn how to broaden his range of starting hands while keeping his degree of aggressiveness.

A single one of these mistakes during a session can lead you to large losses. Those are the difficulties that make poker such a complex and captivating game. The good news is that even the best players fall victims to these mistakes every once in a while. You dont need to be perfect in order to beat your opponents! The bad news is many other mistake exist, and are as dangerous. We will discuss them in our second part.

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