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Common Mistakes in Poker

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This article aims to help you, the novice poker player, to avoid some pretty common mistakes when starting Texas Hold'em or another variant of poker.

Even if you're not a beginner player, this article can be useful because it provides a lot of information about the "pitfalls" of poker and suggests useful strategies to avoid being trapped.

Play every hand

The basic error and certainly the most common error when starting poker is to play every hand.

However, not all hands are "playable", some are lost before they are started. In these cases, it is unnecessary to continue in the hand, the best option is just to fold and avoid the risks. Of course, we should not judge hands full of possibilities in the same way as "no-hoper" hands. Analysis and a combination of work and study to learn which hands are playable are both necessary when you enter into the world of poker.

If you choose the hands you play wisely, you will have an advantage over your opponents who play them all.

Similarly, there is no need to play at all when the atmosphere at the table is too aggressive, the chances of winning are very low indeed for you as a beginner.

Miscalculation of probabilities

Another very common mistake when you are a novice poker player, is miscalculation of the probability of receiving a particular card.

Essentially, it is important to remember that you're not the only one to be dealt cards, that is to say that even on the rare and lucky occasion when you have a set, one of your opponents can also have a set, which is stronger than yours and win the pot to which you have contributed a lot of money.

When playing poker, it is important to know the probability that an event will happen and play accordingly.

Let yourself be distracted by what is going on around you

An error that is specific to online poker is to let yourself be distracted by the what is going on around you.

In fact, when you play online, it's easy to do something else at the same time: read emails, talk on the phone, scribble on a piece of paper, etc.. All those little things make a world of difference as they mean that you are not 100% focused.

When playing online poker, it is important to be alert and focused on the game as we can not see our opponents can not analyse their facial expressions and body language to understand their strategy, we must there focus on other aspects of their game such as:

  • The time taken to make a decision.
  • The size of a bet.

If you made the effort to analyse your opponent's play, you can understand their strategy and fight to win the pot.

Calling a bet instead of raising

Another common mistake is to follow the opponent by calling instead of taking the lead by betting.

Calling is often the worst action to take in poker for several reasons.

  • The first is that calling will never allow you to win the hand immediately whereas if you raise, your opponent can fold, leaving you with the pot.
  • Similarly, the act of calling makes you a passive player, a player that does not take his opponent by surprise and has very little chance of winning.
  • Calling does not bring you any information about your opponent's game, only a raise will tell you whether the opponent has a higher than yours or at least claims to.

The objective of poker is to win the pot, so be proactive and do not just passively follow a playmaker, you must be the playmaker!

The misuse of the bluff

Those new to poker is often want to try everything without really knowing how to do it.

A very common mistake which can be expensive, is the misuse of the bluff. It is important to understand that this is a complex strategy and so well known that it is much harder to implement, especially when your opponents are more experienced, they will notice very quickly!

Be vigilant and think about your overall strategy when using the bluff, use it from time to time but not too often.

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Last updated, 27 March 2014
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