Even if you’ve read books and watched tutorials, mistakes will inevitably be made when playing poker for the first time. To help you get ahead, we’ve compiled a list of common mistakes beginners make when playing poker.
1. Being Unprepared
Being unprepared could mean either having insufficient funds to stay in the game, not knowing the rules, or simply not caring about strategy. It can be problematic for a few reasons: firstly, if you don’t know how to play, you are more likely to make mistakes that your more experienced opponents will gleefully exploit; secondly, start with a bankroll too small, and you may get knocked out quite quickly.
2. Relying Too Much on Luck
Smart poker players spend time studying the game, learning and mastering strategies, calculating odds, and understanding how their opponents are likely to act upon any given hand. Even beginners will notice the benefits of playing with a more thought-out strategy over counting on luck. While getting lucky may lead to a few big wins here and there, relying solely on luck can be highly detrimental in the long run.
3. Bluffing Too Often
The truth is that pro players make strategic bluffs occasionally. Still, beginners tend to bluff so much that it becomes predictable. Not only does this result in no gain for the inexperienced bluffer, but it leaves them open to getting called by experienced opponents. Bluffing is about identifying when your opponents’ poker cards are weak and thus likely to fold.
4. Not Studying Hand Histories and Other Data to Improve
Success is built upon experience, so you should put in the extra effort to look back and analyze your performance during each session. Understanding what went right and wrong and why can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and improve your game. If you play poker online, lots of tracking software is available to help you with this process.
5. Playing Out of Position
Generally speaking, players in late positions have an advantage because they can observe how their opponents act before deciding what action to take. New players often make the mistake of playing out of position and thus put themselves at a disadvantage. It’s wiser to play more tightly in early positions and only enter pots if you have a strong hand.
6. Getting Overly Emotional From Losing or Winning
It’s natural to be frustrated by a loss and excited by a win, but letting your emotions take over will lead to bad decisions. Stay focused on the game. Don’t be discouraged by a bad beat, but don’t get too cocky after a big win.
7. Ignoring Pot Odds
Pot odds are the pot size ratio to the last bet. Converting this figure to a percentage can help you decide whether it’s worth staying in or folding your cards. To do so, add the pot size and last bet together, then divide what you need to call by that sum. Then multiply the number by 100 and add a %.
8. Overvaluing Mediocre Hands
With mediocre hands, new players often think they can get away with bluffing or simply counting on an unlikely winning scenario. It can be a dangerous game to play, especially if your opponents are experienced players. The best strategy for a beginner is just to tighten up pre-flop and play only the hands with real potential.
9. Not Paying Attention to Tells and Other Signs
Tells are subtle actions or habits that can indicate the strength of an opponent’s hand. As such, new players must pay attention to these information cues during their poker game.
If you are playing in person rather than online, reading opponents’ body language can also be a useful skill to master. Keep your eyes open and take in as much information about your fellow players as possible. Analyzing their gestures, pauses in conversation, or even the tiny chip-stacking patterns they might unconsciously form on the table could be beneficial in figuring them out.
10. Playing for Too Long Without Taking Breaks
It’s easy to lose track of time or take on too many tables when you’re having a good night and feeling confident you can handle it. However, this is a mistake! When fatigue sets in, players are more likely to make bad decisions. Regular breaks will give players the mental clarity they need to make intelligent decisions during a game and prevent fatigue-related mistakes.
11. Playing at Stakes Beyond Their Comfort Level
Playing at a table way above your comfort level takes a lot of work to stay focused and make informed decisions. Instead of jumping into games with stakes beyond your means, build your skills at tables that suit your bankroll, then test yourself at higher levels when ready.
12. Neglecting Bankroll Management
Mismanaged bankrolls are the primary reason players look on helplessly as their funds disappear in a flurry of mistakes and bad luck at the tables.
However, taking some serious time to calculate how much you can set aside for poker without compromising your everyday necessities can go a long way in significantly reducing risk. While no amount of preparation or discipline eliminates the risk entirely, intelligent bankroll management gives players sound footing to make successful plays.
Now that you know new poker players’ common mistakes, do your best to avoid them. Every situation is different in poker, so use your discretion and common sense. If you’re ready for online poker action, sign up now at natural8 and start raking in those poker chips!
© 2023, Seth "Digital Crates" Barmash. All rights reserved.