10 Common Texas Hold’em Poker Mistakes to Avoid
There is no such thing as playing perfect poker. No matter how good you get, there is always room for improvement.
Likewise, no matter how much you learn, there are usually some areas in your game that need additional attention, and countering it can help you to increase your profits.
In this article, we’ll try to identify 10 of the most common mistakes in Texas Hold’em and talk about how to avoid them. While many of these are more inherent to amateurs and recreational players, even professionals fall victim to these mistakes from time to time. You should definitely read this article if you are looking to become a professional poker player.
POKER MISTAKE #1: Playing too many hands pre-flop
Texas Hold’em can be a boring game when cards aren’t coming your way. When you catch a run of really bad hole cards, especially when playing live, it can be really annoying.
If you let the frustration and boredom get better of you, you’re likely to start playing too many hands before the flop, which is one of the “safest” ways to start giving your chips away.
Staying disciplined and sticking to proper starting hand ranges even when you’ve been getting dealt trash hands for two hours straights is a mark of a good poker player. If you catch yourself thinking that 7-3 suited looks like an okay hand to call a UTG raise, you’ll be better off getting up and leaving.
Playing too many hands pre-flop is guaranteed to land you in tricky post-flop situations with weak holdings, often leading to substantial losses that could have been easily avoided by simply giving your cards back to the dealer like you were supposed to.
POKER MISTAKE #2: Overplaying speculative and medium-strength hands
The ”value of your hand” is a relative term depending on what kind of opposition and action you are facing.
However, some holdings are just not very strong by definition, like small flushes facing a big raise on the river, second pairs, top pairs with weak kickers, etc.
Some players, especially those new to the game, tend to value these hands way too much, playing them almost as if they had the nuts.
The issue with overplaying these hands is that you’re effectively turning them into bluffs. These lines might get an opponent to fold a stronger hand here and there, but almost every time they look you up, they’ll have a better hand.
Since these medium-strength hands have a decent showdown value themselves, you don’t need to take aggressive lines with them and should play them for what they’re worth.
POKER MISTAKE #3: Acting too quickly without thinking things through
This is a problem for both recreational and professional players alike.
In fact, players who spend a lot of time playing the game will often go on auto-pilot and make decisions without taking enough time to think, which can lead to costly mistakes in poker.
Most of the time, these mistakes could have been easily avoided with just a few extra seconds of thinking time.
One way to avoid this is by training yourself to never, ever act immediately when it is your turn.
Always take at least a few seconds to think about all available information. Take into consideration your opponents action, position, sizing, and even verbal tells when you are playing live.
This isn’t so you’d waste everyone else’s time but rather to protect you from acting too quickly in situations where you should think.
In those few extra seconds, you can gather your thoughts and prevent yourself from making a mistake like calling where you should be raising or folding in a spot where pot odds are way too good, just because you had such an instinct.
POKER MISTAKE #4: Failing to table-select and search for good games
While amateur players can afford to pretty much play in any game they like, those looking to make some money need to approach the game seriously.
This includes looking for the best games and best situations to make profit.
Sometimes, it can be annoying to spend time selecting tables online or waiting for your seat in a really good live game. You’d rather jump straight into action even if it means battling it out with other good players, some even better than yourself.
However, this isn’t the right way to approach the game, as this is far from the most profitable way.
If you play poker for a living or to subsidize some of your expenses, looking for the best tables you can find is part of your job. Sitting down in any game just to put in some hands is reckless and can also be quite costly in the long run.
POKER MISTAKE #5: Not thinking about other players’ hand ranges
When you play Hold’em, there are two key pieces of information you need to worry about: your hand and the cards held by your opponents. Some players forget to think about the latter and just focus on their own hand.
I am sure that you can see how it can end up being a very costly mistake.
Even though it is one of the hardest things to master in poker, it is essential to learn how to assign a range of hands to your opponent, instead of just guessing what they could have.
You can simply assign your opponent a range of likely holdings based on their pre-flop position and play, and then reduce possible combinations based on their action when the hand progresses.
This way you will be much more accurate with your decisions compared to putting them on a single hand and sticking with it no matter what.
POKER MISTAKE #6: Getting too emotional while playing
Poker is a very emotional game, there’s no doubt about that. With all the bad beats, lucky hits, busted and caught bluffs, a poker session can be a real rollercoaster of emotions.
However, you can’t allow for your emotions to take hold and start influencing your decisions.
Allowing any type of emotion to take over is what we refer to as “tilt.” Some players fail to realize there are many different types of tilt and it isn’t always caused by bad beats.
You can go on tilt from running too hot as well, throwing caution to the wind and starting to play way too loose. The main point to remember is that every time you start doing things at the table that you rationally know you shouldn’t be doing, it’s time to take a break and think.
Sometimes you’ll be best off stopping the session than continuing playing and making poor decisions.
POKER MISTAKE #7: Relying too much on your stats
Online poker players love tracking software and HUDs, and for a good reason.
All of these tools can be a great help when playing, giving you a much better idea of your opponents’ playing styles and tendencies in different spots. However, you shouldn’t let stats become the only thing you pay attention to when playing.
For example, there are situations where players are unlikely to bluff, even if they are playing an aggressive style in general.
Also, someone might be tilting after a few bad beats and spewing chips, and this won’t show up in their stats as they usually play solid poker.
Obviously, you should take advantage of stats available to you, but don’t let them be the only thing that guides your decisions.
POKER MISTAKE #8: Sticking to your plan and failing to adjust to other players
A part of playing good poker is adjusting to the situation at hand. While it is important to have your own, solid game-plan, you should also be capable of deviating from that plan to a certain degree when a specific situation arises.
Some players will fail to adjust to changing dynamics at the table, often to their own detriment. If a maniac sits down at your table, for example, you can’t continue stealing a bunch of pots before the flop.
Now, there is a player who won’t let you do it, so you need to adjust to their presence and change your strategy.
If someone isn’t folding out of the big blind, attack them with stronger hands and make bigger raises. Don’t make small raises with weak hands because they’re completely useless against this type of a player.
There are many ways to adjust versus different players, and being open to these changes during the play will help you win more and improve much faster.
POKER MISTAKE #9: Not following proper bankroll management
Once again, this is a mistake that relates more to serious players. Recreational players generally don’t have to follow bankroll management because they don’t have a bankroll as such.
They play when they feel like it, and if they bust, they can do something else or find a different type of entertainment.
For serious players, though, sticking to a fairly strict bankroll management plan is essential for their success in the long run. This prevents you from losing all the money or having to go down the limits too fast when you encounter a bad run of cards.
Without proper bankroll, you can’t play.
If you can’t play, you can’t make any money – and if you can’t make money, future isn’t looking particularly bright if you want to play poker professionally.
POKER MISTAKE #10: Not learning new strategies after the first success
Some players will work hard to get to the point where they start beating the games. Once they do, however, they’ll be happy to sit on their laurels and will stop learning and expanding their knowledge.
This can be a very dangerous mistake as there are always others out there just as passionate about the game, and they are ready to study.
If you aren’t keeping up, you’ll fall behind, and all of a sudden, you’ll stop winning. It can be very hard, not only from the money standpoint but also in terms of self-confidence and motivation.
To avoid these problems, you should commit to constantly learning new things and improving your strategy to be truly playing at your best.
A poker player can never afford to stop learning. The game changes all the time, and players are always getting better, so you need to do your part as well.
These are the most common mistakes, that sometimes are intertwined, one leading to another, often creating a vicious circle that can be quite hard to get out of.
Hopefully, this article will help you recognize some of your own mistakes or at least keep them in the back of your mind, just in case.
We’re all humans and mistakes are part of our lives, and poker as well. The important thing is to recognize them in time and fix it as soon as possible before they can cause serious damage.
About The Author:
Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, published author and poker coach. He writes for a range of online publications and helps other poker players to excel. He can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.