In the words of the late, great Mike Sexton, “poker takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master”.
This is because, while it can be basically understood by just about anyone, winning regularly at the game can be tricky.
Anyone can win a hand, even by accident, but long term success wont come your way unless you get to grips with the complexities of the game.
In short, from understanding the basics and knowing your hands to learning how – and when – to bluff correctly, there is a lot for new poker players to take in and learn.
You might not like it, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes early doors, making errors is a crucial part of the learning process and these can be eliminated from your game at a later date.
To that end, below we have highlighted some of the most common mistakes that poker players, especially rookies, tend to make.
By avoiding these easily made and common pitfalls, you will find your poker game starting to improve in no time.
Playing Too Many Hands
Don’t be lead into playing every hand that your dealt. This is known in the game as playing too loose.
It goes without saying that you should really only stay in when holding a good hand, but remember folding is a vital part of the game.
When you play too many hands, not only are you increasing your chances of losing when you get to the river, but it also works as a tell to the others that you are playing with that you are unwilling or even unlikely to fold even when you are holding a weak hand.
True, some poker players don’t like folding and see it as boring, but that’s their problem, not yours. You’re not there to do them any favours, you’re there to take their money. In order to become a successful player, you must master knowing when to fold.
You will improve your success rate and make better, more informed, post flop decisions by being much more choosy with the hands that you play.
Playing Too Few Hands
Yes, we know this goes against what we just said but bear with us here. While playing too loose too often is a problem, so too is playing too tight.
Tightening up your game is definitely something you will need to do, and it will also help you to win against loose players, however, by over tightening you will also run into problems eventually too.
Essentially, you could miss out on a number of marginal but profitable spots if you play too tight on too many occasions.
You can and should avoid making the poker mistake of playing too tight. This can be achieved by widening your pre-flop ranges in order to create a good balance between value hands and bluffing.
The harder you are to read by mixing up your good bluffs and good hands, the harder opponent you will be for others to beat.
Mix Up Your Poker Strategies
There are a ton of poker strategies for grinders to employ. But the best and most successful poker players tend to be the ones who have a mixture of tendencies in their arsenal.
Having a mixed bag of ways to play not only means that you can spring a surprise at any time, but it can also get you out of a tricky situation if you are being played into a corner.
For some players, the game revolves around the bluff, for others it might be about playing the odds. And of course, we know all about tight and loose players who fold regularly and play lots of hands respectively.
A regular mistake among new comers to the game is deciding on a playing style, enjoying some initial success, and then never switching things up.
Sticking to a single poker strategy is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, because if you only ever play the same way, it will make you predictable.
In a lengthy MTT, players will be evaluating your playing style, especially if you run deep and you get near the money.
The other reason to mix up your play is that no two hands are the same and different strategies will work for you in different circumstances and with different opponents, hence being fluid in your poker strategies should work for you in the long run.
Think Two Or Three Moves Ahead
It is not just chess where you need to plan ahead in your strategy, this applies in poker as well. A common mistake is to not plan forward. Neglecting to factor in how a certain play will affect their hand later on can be fatal.
On too many occasions, players do this and end up finding themselves in a challenging spot. In looking forward, you have given yourself a better chance of simplifying the post flop play.
Basically, when you are making a decision, always think about what you are doing, what is likely to happen and consider your plan for the rest of the hand.
HUDs, Use ‘em (Correctly)
In case you’re not aware, HUD stands for heads up display and, used correctly, the point of these is help you make the right moves by attempting to predict what your opponent is likely to do next.
There are plenty of these specialist apps or software available and it would be a mistake not to utilise these handy tools.
It’s what all of the online poker pros do because a HUD app records and reveals data about other players including their past performance and playing styles.
While we’re here though, there is room for caution when using a HUD. One common error made by players is to make decisions based on inferior sample sizes.
HUDs can be misleading if they are only displaying data from only a small sample of a player’s hands. The trick is to make the most of the information displayed on a HUD and let it inform your decisions rather than make them for you.
Put your faith in your own poker instincts and read your opponents as you like to, then let the data help to guide your next move.