Common Beginner Mistakes to Avoid in Texas Hold‘Em Poker
Just like with any other sport or game, poker too has a learning curve that needs to be mastered with practice. Unfortunately, a lot of players get swayed by the amazing hands and massive pots that they see at final tables in tournaments, usually on TV or YouTube and ‘want to play like the pros’. What they fail to realize is the strategy, planning, and psychology that goes behind those hands.
Beginner poker players typically make a range of common mistakes that stem from a lack of understanding of the strategy and psyche of the game. In this article, we are listing out some of the common Texas Hold'em mistakes that you ought to avoid at the beginning of your tryst with poker.
Common Mistakes of Beginner Poker Players and How to Avoid Them
#1. Calling All Kinds of Hands
The easiest way to spot a hold’em beginner is by the number of hands they play. A novice player typically plays almost all hands he is dealt, even if they are a guaranteed dud. The thought process behind this is mainly psychological - they don’t want to miss out, they want to be a part of the action, they don’t want other players thinking lesser of them, or they just want to ‘learn’.
Whatever the reason, playing any and all hands is more harmful to your bankroll than profitable. Until you learn the ropes and get a grip on the statistical and analytical aspects of the game, try and stick to potentially strong hands like top pairs or suited connecting cards.
#2. Betting on a Losing Board
This is another common mistake that beginner players tend to make. They keep calling bets even when they are running dry, or not hitting anything on the board. Sometimes, players also keep betting or calling on low pairs or high cards. If someone is betting on the board, there is a greater chance that he/she has hit something. And if you have not, then you’re sure to lose your money.
#3. Calling on Aces with Any Cards
Anyone who has been playing poker for a few hours is bound to know that an A-3 hand loses to an A-4 and higher. A lot of novice players still get very upbeat when dealt an Ace and will bet like it is the winning hand, especially if the board lands another Ace.
Stop for a second and see what the board is. Look at your kicker card. Look at the potentiality of hands. Is there a likely straight or flush draw? Are there cards higher than your kicker? How are your opponents betting? Could they have hit something? Take all this into consideration before calling costly bets.
#4. Chasing Wrong Hands
This is often an emotional mistake that’s common in players who are just starting out. It’s called getting over-committed to a hand. Players often call or bet on hands in the hope of a winner. For instance, playing on a small pair in hopes of hitting trips or a two-pair, or playing on a lower straight or flush draw even when bet sizes are big, or playing on an Ace in the hopes of hitting a pair.
Competitiveness and hope are common human traits, and hence understandable. However, to be a good poker player you must exercise caution and rationality. Understand that folding is often the better play when it is evident that your opponent is already holding a better hand.
#5. Not Understanding Bet Sizes and Pot Odds
These are two statistical concepts that all poker players must familiarize themselves with right at the start. Pot odds tell you your chances of winning the pot with your hand. Pot odd calculators are present in online poker rooms; you can see the strength of your hand every time a new card lands on the board.
The same for bet sizes; you should know how much to bet and when to call a large bet. These two concepts are linked. If you don’t understand that you have a weak hand, or keep chasing it by calling an enormous bet from your opponent, you are bound to lose your bankroll very fast.
#6. Getting Psyched or Emotional
The poker term for playing with your heart and not your mind is called ‘tilting’. Players often go on a tilt if they win or lose too many hands, or get scared or amped up by those around them. Tilting is a surefire way to ensure loss of bankroll, because you tend to call on any and all hands, big and small bets, whether you have the lowest pair or nothing at all.
If you realize that you are getting excited/scared/angry and losing rationality, it’s best to stop playing for a while and gather your bearings. That’s better than losing your hard-earned money.
#7. Bluffing Too Much
Yes, poker does involve bluffing. And it is fun to ‘trick’ someone out of a hand once in a while when you actually don’t have anything close to a winner. However, like all things in poker, even bluffing should be done reasonably and rationally. If you bluff at every hand, people will call you on it sooner than you realize.
No one will take your play seriously and you will get called on most hands, especially if your opponents have hit something. And then you will lose not only your bankroll, but also your credibility. Decide on a percentage for bluffing, or plan your bluffs depending on the number of hands, your opponents’ psyche, or your player position. For example, bluffing at starting position might encourage more people to fold. If you are towards the end and more people are in the pot, your bluff is less likely to work.
To Sum It Up
When you are learning the ropes of Texas Hold’em, always remember that money management and a strong sense of reason are very important qualities. Never lose your cool, always play within your budget range, play hands cautiously and step away when things get emotional. Watch games, learn the stats, and soon you’ll be on your way to poker greatness.