To call poker a complicated game is a big understatement. Even the pros who have perfectly plied their trade at the poker tables for decades still unveil new tricks nearly each day. Therefore, tilt is a word you commonly hear at the poker tables. This word describes poker players who simply lose their rudder and play badly, usually after a bad beat. Top masters aren’t exempt to this affliction; the pressure of large tournaments causes a few to implode before a nationwide television exposure. But the best players know that becoming a poker genius is a perpetual process, so keep looking for fresh hidden layers of enlightenment.
Even though I don’t go into advanced poker tactic, this article provides you with a few basic advices that can improve your game, online poker game and/or your brick and mortar game. The key to successful venture in casino poker is to play boldly (raising your great hands unrelentingly like a schoolyard bully). Simply calling and checking through the flop, river, and turn, however, ignoring the strength of other player’s hand is a sure recipe for tragedy.
Below are some ordinary mistakes that people often make in poker. It may be a social game, however, to be a successful player in the casino, you should care more about winning the pot than making lots of friends at the table, by steering clear of these pitfalls, you are already a leg up on the fierce competition.
Playing too many hands. Without question, the biggest strategic mistake most early poker players make is playing as if any two cards can win. Although it is true in theory, taking up arms with weak starting cards is a dangerous battle tactic. Occasionally you may try to hit a long shot and rake in huge pots, but over the long-term this approach burns through cash faster than a summer wildfire.
Rather than worrying about multiple hands, you need to focus on playing fewer hands than you usually do in the home game. Then with those few hands you do play, be as bold as you can be. It will create a tough table image, which is a decisive factor to your success. Being dreaded is far more lucrative than being revered.
Always keep this saying in mind: Your two cards can lose. (What!? You want a something catchier?) In Texas Hold’em, the initial step toward a winning poker playing style is to be very selective about your two cards. Admittedly, tossing away hand after hand is not exciting, but playing tightly yields far more revenue than playing like a maniacal madman.
- Playing like in home game. Even if, you occasionally play poker at Saturday night, you will experience some culture shocks the first time you enter a casino. The pace is much faster, the game is more elegant, and far fewer players play in each pot. On the first hand, a bully player to your right may try to checkraise you – in spite of the fact that you believe that checkraising is poor manners when playing with your neighbors. However, if you are able to adapt quickly, the casino poker game can actually be more exhilarating than the slow, constantly disrupted weekly variant you play with your pals.
Overreaching the bankroll. Always stay inside your financial comfort zone. A gigantic financial loss is the major factor that commonly drives gamblers over the edge and positions them on tilt. Correct money management may help you to have better sleep at night. If you remain within prearranged limits, you will never lose more than an insignificant portion of your overall saving on any given day.
If you experience a losing streak, you shouldn’t jump to a higher-limit game in a fearless attempt to win back your losses. You may, unknowingly, spiral into greater financial loss. Better to stay within the same limits until you win continuously. Then if your $2,000 bankroll grows to $2,500, you can proceed to $3- to $6-limit games. But don’t make such a move out of desperation or panic.
- Chasing and checking. Staying in the hand the whole way to the river even when the hands don’t improve isn’t a clever poker tactic. The player who obstinately calls bets all the way until the end while wishing for a miracle card is as absurd as the driver who is lost and don’t want to ask for correct directions (you should know who you are). Most players charge ahead until the bitter end with poor cards when they are pulling off the road.
Tunnel vision effect. Tunnel vision plagues most new players. The natural inclination when they check the flop is to only assess how it will improve their hand. Even if this evaluation is invaluable, reading the table and deciding how the flop may elevate your opponent’s hands is more important.
Poker isn’t a solo activity. To be a winning poker player, you must perpetually keep your thought on the big picture – it is not just how your hand is playing out. Particularly in games where community cards are considered as part of the package, you have the chance and opportunity to read how other players may fare from that deal.
- Overvaluing the high pair. In Omaha/8 or Texas Hold’em, whenever a player flops top pair (pairing a flopped top card on with one of the hole cards), his first impression often is “Cool, I have a great hand.” Perhaps, that can be the case – but two pair or better are commonly needed to win. So be cautious about going gangbusters with just one pair, even if it’s top pair. Almost everybody knows that the worst starting hand in poker is a two and seven. But few people understand that a real worst finishing hand during poker game is when you get a good hand but it is just second best. This sort of hand will suck you in for a few bets before you discover the bad news that you get a loser hand. You confront few worse feelings in the poker kingdom than getting ‘oh-so-close’ to the valuable pot, only to watch other people snatch it away.
- Getting too attached. Most poker players know that the open road and casinos should be their only mistresses in life, but the poker mistake I’m talking about is not related to your domestic status. I am warning you about the peril of falling in love and devoting yourself to a particular hand. The outcome of such a doomed attachment is that you are unable to let that hand go later when the obvious fact that you are beaten is plain to see. Even if you start the game with a great hand – a pair of aces or kings, for example – you are likely to find yourself in a certain situation where you must have a divorce and throw your hand away right after the flop.
- Not giving any respect. Most players are oblivious to some bets that show freaky strength. When someone makes a raise at early position, he frequently has a superior hand. Or if an opponent checkraises you at a turn, alarms should ring in your head screaming that you are beaten. Poker rewards aggressiveness. But sometimes the best strategy is to quietly withdraw. Being able to fold a great hand is a critical skill that each top player has in his arsenal. Cautiously watch the other players at the table and if a player rarely raises, or only want to play an absolutely best hands, then you should have a strong hand yourself when they bet real big.
- Being too predictable. Poker is best played by keeping other players off balance. If you consistently check when you have a garbage hand or bet when you have a powerful hand, other players can read you like those cheap paperbacks with a formula ending. Combine your game with an unpredictable bluff or an unforeseen checkraise. If you usually bet when you get a flush draw, check next time you get it again. Whenever you feel other players know your next move, surprise them.
Getting too emotionally involved. You shouldn’t lose your edge by concentrating on just one person at the poker table. A few obnoxious players may be making you angry and pushing all of your buttons. Sometimes those jerks recently beat you out of a huge pot and then gloated, you would like nothing better than to inflict some revenge and bust them out.
Never let your opponent get under your skin. Always take a deep breath, ignore them, and concentrate on your game. If these advices don’t work, find a new table or at least get some rests for a while to cool down.
- Hinting your hand. At the poker table most mannerisms, or tells, disclose the value of someone’s hand. What is exactly a tell? A player may stop breathing or talking when he has a great hand. Another tell is perhaps shaking hands or the presence of perspiration on his forehead. If a player plans on raising or betting, he may take a hurried glance at his chips. If someone wants you to call his hand, he may lean back in his chair; if he prefers that you fold, he may lean forward as another attempt to intimidate you. Consistently observe your opponents for any cues to their hands. But more significantly, study yourself to be sure you are not giving away important information to other players.