Are you constantly losing money on the poker table? Are you blaming bad luck for those thousand dollar downswings? Do your friends always invite you over to their poker games, and then proceed to annihilate you hand after hand? Do you think Q-6 suited is a good pre-flop hand to be calling a 3-bet out of position with? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, chances are that you’re a bad poker player.
1. You Play Too Many Hands
The biggest mistake that novice/bad poker players make is that they simply play way too many hands. Too weak Aces, Jacks, Queens, or Kings, too many double-gap connectors, and too many suited garbage hands lead to tough situations on the flop, turn, and river (heh). You will find yourself bleeding chips and constantly folding to post-flop bets, or even worse—you will get a ton of money in when you are totally dominated. As a rule, only play premium hands. While it isn’t as exciting to sit out hand after hand, your wallet will thank you in the morning. Avoiding this glaring problem will also greatly cut down on problem #2…
2. You Chase Too Much
To put things simply, you’re a fish. You always stay in a hand to try and hit a straight, a flush, a second pair, or even that dirty Ace. While calling on a draw isn’t necessarily a bad thing—especially if you’re getting the right implied odds—if you continue to chase cards to the river you will lose money. Not only that, but other players will begin to punish you with more expensive bets. Do yourself a favor and TIGHTEN UP!
3. You’re A Calling Station
There is nothing more agonizing to a poker player than making a call when they know they are beaten, and then their opponent does indeed flip over the winning hand. Regardless of whether the bet is small or not, if you think you are beat then you should throw away the hand. Over time, all of these little bets will slowly take bites out of your big bankroll, and before you know it you’ll have nothing left. Stop paying off your opponents, stop trying to be a hero, and TIGHTEN UP!
4. You Play Recklessly
If you want to go gamble, head to the craps or roulette tables, because poker is not for you. If, instead, you want to get serious about winning at poker and make some real money, then you need to have discipline. Stop trying to treat poker like a lottery and instead like a skill; buckle down, focus on your weaknesses, and avoid making mistakes. Believe us when we tell you that making money is a lot more fun than losing money.
5. You Play Scared
The flipside to playing like a reckless madman is that you play like a pu… errr wimp. Many players are so afraid of losing big pots they will avoid playing anything but the nuts. To make matters worse, they will often fold made hands because they are afraid that they will “get sucked out.” Caution is one thing; pure-blown paranoia is quite another. You have to face your fear of losing pots and play with a little bit of courage. Don’t’ worry, it gets easier the more you play. One of the biggest ways to remove that fear is to avoid no. 9 on our list…
6. You Play Outside of Your Bankroll
Don’t be embarrassed about playing small stakes—this game isn’t about earning respect, it’s about earning money! The key to winning poker is to find a game in which you have an edge, and where you don’t have to risk a significant portion of your bankroll. More specifically, even if you have a huge edge you shouldn’t risk a huge portion of your bankroll—all it takes is a single misstep or unlucky hand and you are broke as a joke.
7. You Tilt Too Easily
It’s one thing to get a little dismayed by a string of bad hands; it’s another thing altogether to lose your temper and forget how to play poker. While ignoramuses like Phil Hellmuth may have popularized the idea of poker blow ups, there is no reason to make rash decisions at the poker table. Hot emotions can blind you from making smart decisions, and you don’t want your ego responsible for making real-money decisions. If you ever feel like you’re losing control on the poker table, it’s time to take a step back and give yourself a time out.
8. You Bluff Too Much
Many new players think that to be good at poker you have to be good at bluffing, but it simply isn’t true. While there is something inherently satisfying about pulling off some sick monster bluffs, there’s an equal chance it can fail spectacularly, costing you a ton of your hard-earned chips. Some people, unfortunately, suffer from nos. 1 and 4 on our list, leading them to bluff way too often, leading them to get called down, which then leads them to #7. It’s a vicious cycle, but easily avoided by picking your spots instead of just randomly spewing chips aggressively at pots. Remember, your opponent has to be able to put you on a good hand in order for the bluff to work.
9. You Play Games You Can’t Beat
Everyone wants to take on the pros and win, but let’s be honest—they are pros for a reason. This plays back into no. 6—don’t play a game where you don’t have an edge, or where you are playing scared. This isn’t an Xbox game; there aren’t any medals for playing on “Hard” difficulty. Do yourself a favor, go smash up the rookie game instead, and BUY yourself a shiny medal.