Do you regularly partake in a game of poker whilst you are on vacation or a quick weekend getaway? Do you find that whenever you sit down at the table, more often than not, you leave with fewer chips than you started?
Does all this sound familiar? Well, it can be easy to blame these losses on getting it in good, and then your opponent hits their draw or a one outer for them to scoop the pot.
But maybe, there are a few leaks in your game that can be easily addressed by being able to identify these five sins in this article.
Knowing how to avoid them when you are on your next poker trip may see you move from the red and into the black.
Take it from someone who has made these mistakes when on poker trips, Budapest 2018 rings a bell for me.
A younger, inexperienced, and more arrogant version of myself ventured into poker rooms with a very cocky attitude because I have watched a few videos.
In the end, I was taken to school by some not very good players.
Another example was my first trip to Vegas, sitting down at a table of regs in Caesars Palace after binking a daily tournament in the Flamingo casino thinking I was invincible.
I quickly found out how fallible I really was.
Of course, we will not discuss other distractions like slots or sport betting bars at the casinos since you can easily find more information about it. However, if it is poker you are struggling with on your travels, this article might help you a lot.
Now do not think you will turn into a GTO wizard once you have reached the end of this article, but it should massively help you on your next poker trip.
You Shall Stop Calling Turn and River Raises With Just One Pair
Now, I am not going to tell you that folding is fun because it isn’t since you cannot win if you fold.
However, you can heavily reduce your losses by folding more to turn and river raises when you just have one pair.
This particularly pertains to the lower stakes games, which I imagine you will be playing on your poker trip. They’re the easiest and most accessible games to get a seat for at the casino you are playing at.
But these lower stake games abroad are mostly filled with passive players who do not bluff, almost ever!
A raise from this player type 99% of the time means they have a big hand. And by big hand, I mean hands that beat even the biggest of one pair.
No one likes laying down pocket Aces or Kings but, as Kenny Rodgers would say, ‘knowing when to fold’em’ is a crucial part of being a successful poker player.
The best players at the table and all over the world know when to fold an overpair, so if you want to be a winning player, you need to know: at the lower levels calling turn and river raises is a sin!
Now that’s not to say that if you have half a deck to hit your hand, you have to muck your cards, but if you haven’t got big draws to the nuts, then simply toss your hand away.
And, players at these levels will rarely raise the turn with a draw. They’ll call most of the time to see the river.
You Shall Avoid Slow Playing
There are few things sweeter than trapping your opponent with a strong hand, and by the river, they’ve stuck in their entire stack, and you are there with the effective nuts.
Players like Phil Hellmuth have made this a very fashionable way of winning hands, but we are now in 2020, so it is time to leave slow playing in the past and YouTube compilations. (do not mix it with slow rolling).
Playing in a $1/$2 game or the equivalent of wherever you are playing poker, slow playing will negatively affect your bottom line, and you will find yourself more often than not overvaluing your holdings and giving your stack to your opponents.
But even when you do have the winning hand, why do you want to slow play a strong hand at these levels?
You know these games are filled with people who do not like to fold as well, and the aim of poker is to win money, so why wouldn’t you want to build pots when you have a premium holding?
When you have a premium hand, you want max value, so next time you have Aces or Kings, don’t flat a raise. Go for a three-bet, and if you face a four-bet, just get it in!
Getting tricky with premium poker hands against bad players will only end in tears… For you.
You Shall Not Swim With The Sharks If There Are No Fish
Call me the cliché, but I unashamedly admit that I have a poker movie Rounders’ poster hanging on my bedroom wall.
One of the most poignant lines in the movie from Mike McDermott (Matt Damon) is, “If you can not spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”
Whatever game you are playing in, home or abroad, to be a winning player, you need to play games where there are worse players than you.
If you cannot identify these big fish, you are very likely not the hunter but soon to be the hunted.
Playing against worse players is the quickest way to make money, but you would be surprised by how many players still do not get that game selection is one of the most important parts of being a winning player.
As I told you in the introduction, I was the hunted on my first trip to Vegas. I have no problems in telling you this because it is what really hit home for how important game selection is.
So, if you are on a Vegas trip and see the likes of popular poker vloggers like Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme at the Wynn poker room cash tables, by all means, say hello and get a selfie, but do not sit at their table and test yourself against the big boys.
There’s a reason why they have these meet-up games, and that’s because they are very profitable for them.
You do not need to jump onto the tables as soon as you enter the casino, have a walk around, size up the competition, and choose your game according to where you think you will have the biggest edge. It will be more profitable than what you are doing now.
You Shall Not Play any two cards
Yes, I understand you are on a trip and just looking to have fun, but I have never seen someone have more fun than those who win at the table.
If you are on a trip, then you may only have one or two evenings of poker, and you feel like you have to make the most of it and play every hand you are dealt.
Wrong! Please do not do this, I beg you.
Regardless of where you are playing, you should always have a strong understanding of pre-flop fundamentals.
It is not that difficult to learn even if you currently do not have this knowledge.
There are plenty of resources online where you master your pre-flop poker game, but your biggest takeaway from this article should be:
- Play lots of hands around the button
- Play fewer hands in early positions
The position in poker is one of the most important things when playing, it is a statistical fact that when playing in position, you win more.
You Shall Not Chase losses
It does take time to learn this and it is not something that is easy to give into, but you need to know when to walk away from the poker felt.
Playing on tilt or while frustrated will cause you to lose, even more. You reckon I’m wrong?
Tell me a time when you have played your best poker when you were steaming. That is right, you can’t!
If you feel like the tilt is coming on, take a break.
You will calm down, and on your next poker-fuelled adventure, you will be making more rationale-based decisions, not emotional ones.
As Coach Tyler would say from Friday Night Lights, ‘Clear eyes, full hearts can’t lose.’
And if you are chasing losses on a family trip of all places, walk away and go spend time with them. You will be better off for it, as will everyone else in your immediate family.
Regardless if you are a rec, reg, or a pro, approach the game with these simple poker tips in mind so you can avoid some of these deadly poker sins.