Are these Common Poker Mistakes Costing You Money?
Tuesday, 2. February 2010

New poker players need to learn what to do during a poker game by learning the rules, but all too often they also need to learn what they shouldn’t be doing.

Beginning players and even some intermediate players make common poker mistakes over and over again. These mistakes are easily spotted by experienced players who can use the mistakes to make more money from you.

Are these poker mistakes causing you to lose when you should be winning?

Common Poker Mistake #1: Ignoring Table Position
Beginning poker players will often play a weak hand when they have an early betting position, for example, which just sets them up to lose. To be a good poker player, you need to note where you are sitting in terms of the betting. If you are betting early in each round, then you need to play more conservatively, simply because you do not have much information about other player’s cards. If you are betting late in each round, then you can be freer to bluff or to make fancy moves, because you will have a better idea of where your hand stands.

Common Poker Mistake #2: Bluffing a Lot
Many new players are reluctant to fold. They simply don’t feel that they are playing poker if they are not in every game all the way to the end - even with very weak cards. This strategy is a sure way to lose money, though, since if you are always bluffing more experienced players will notice your strategy and call you on your weak cards each time. Basically, by bluffing a lot you make your bluffing completely ineffective. It is important to bluff from time to time, just to keep your strategy from being too predictable, but you should only bluff if you have a genuine chance of winning.

Common Poker Mistake #3: Not understanding the rules of the game
It is incredible that some players are willing to sit down at a poker game with their money without understanding the difference between a pair and a flush. You need to understand how the game is played and you need to have the various hands memorized in order to play. Otherwise, you are simply throwing your money away.

Common Poker Mistake #4: Emotional Playing
Beginning poker players will often get scared by a loss and start betting more and more in order to recoup their losses. Predictably, this just leads to more and more losses. Poker requires a cool head. Playing poker while relaxed and sober is important. If you are too keyed up or too eager to make up for a loss, you will just end up making huge mistakes. It’s best to call it a night when you are playing badly.

Common Poker Mistake #5: No Concepts of Money
Poker is played with money as well as with cards. That means that you need to understand how to manage your money and your chips or you will end up losing your cash very quickly. Before you sit down to any game, you should have a limit as to how much you can afford to play - and you should never go above that limit just because you have the chance to win more money. You also need to play low limit games at first and avoid playing with very experienced players who will simply take all your money in a poker game. Be smart with your money in poker and don’t throw it around haphazardly.

Poker Psychology
If you see any interviews with professional or champion poker players, you will quickly realize that seasoned poker players do not play against the cards in a poker game - they play against their opponents. You may have seen this same principle in action at a poker game yourself. Often, it is not the best hand that wins, but rather the person who can convince everyone else that he or she is holding the best hand. Almost all poker players have at one point or another folded a good hand only to realize that the winning hand to take the pot was much weaker than the cards they folded.

If you want to play poker well, you have to pay attention both to the cards and to the other players. These simple steps will help you get a handle on the mind set of yourself and other players so that you can win:

Learn the rules of poker well. In your first games of poker, you will likely not be focusing very much on your fellow players at all - you will likely be focusing on keeping all the rules and strategies of poker straight. This is perfectly normal, but to play well you need to make the rules of the game second nature so that you can start noticing the players at the table. When you understand the rules and can tell a good hand from a bad hand at a glance or can calculate pot odds quickly, you will have more time to take advantage of the psychological aspect of the game. If your brow is furrowed over your cards in concentration, you can miss some important concentration - such as the nervous toe tapping that shows your neighboring player is bluffing!

Approach the game in good psychological form. Take care of your psychology first. If you are nervous, anxious, depressed, or distracted, you simply will not be in a mid set to win. Also, if you approach a poker game expecting to lose, then you are seriously hampering your chances for a win. Play poker when you can concentrate on the game and when you are confident enough to play aggressively when you need to.

Observe other players. This will be easier with your friends, so try this in a friendly poker game first. As each card is dealt, look at the reaction of the player. If it is a player you know, look for subtle gestures such as whistling, wiping of the brow, toe tapping, coughing, frowning, smiling, or any other “tells.” If you know a player, you may know from experience that the player, away from the poker table, will always whistle when nervous. If that same person whistles at the poker table, that could be an indication that their hand is making them anxious. Make your observations of all poker players and try to find their “tells” to give you clues about the hands you are dealing with.

Play with patience. Do not let yourself get emotional and start playing hands that you cannot hope to win. Play those hands that have an actual chance at winning.
Throw in the occasional surprise. Psychological studies reveal that people make instant judgments about others. Plus, according to these studies, once we have made a judgment about someone, we tend to accept it as fact. That means that once other players have labeled you as a timid player, for example, they will expect you to play that way. By occasionally bluffing or playing conservatively, you throw the other players off balance by doing the unexpected, and so you increase your own chances of winning.

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