Top 5 Poker Mistakes to Avoid

jonathan little top 5 poker mistakes

4 minutes

Last Updated: July 10, 2024

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Poker is a difficult game, and you’re going to make many mistakes along the way. We all make mistakes, from beginners to top-level players.

However, if you can make fewer mistakes than your opponent, on average, you’ll be successful in the long run.

Weeding mistakes out of your game is a long process that never really ends. However, some of them are easier to recognize and fix than others. That’s why this article will focus on the top five poker mistakes that you should avoid at all costs.

1) Overplaying Marginal Made Hands

      Many players make the mistake of wanting to ‘protect’ their marginal made hand.These are poker hands like a top pair with a weak kicker, a middle pair with a strong kicker, or a pocket pair like pocket queens on a board containing an overcard.

      To achieve this goal, they’ll often bet big, looking to get folds from weaker hands. The problem is that this leads to bloated pots when you get called.

      Now, when the opponent calls a big bet, you can be pretty sure that they have either a stronger made hand or a big draw that you’re at best flipping against.

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      This mistake isn’t hard to fix. You should simply stop overplaying your marginal made hands and controlling the size of the pot. One way to do this is to check back on a turn after betting the flop and getting called.

      This will keep the pot relatively small and also allow opponents to try and bluff with worse holdings, allowing you to bluff-catch with your marginal hands.

      2) Bloated Sense of Entitlement & Lack of Grit

        Many players are far too entitled and don’t really understand the game. No matter how good you are, you’ll run bad in poker occasionally.

        If running bad over short spans leads to tilt and causes you to play worse, your chances of succeeding in the long run are very slim.

        Grit is the ability to play long sessions, go through periods of bad luck, and still come back the next day and play your best game.

        One summer at the WSOP, I had zero cashes over the span of about 40 tournaments. No matter how well I played during early levels, as a tournament would approach the end of the day play, I would get it all in and lose.

        These things happen and every experienced poker player understands this. Those who are really successful have the ability to show up, play great, and lose – and do it all over again day after day.

        3) Not Thinking in Terms of Ranges

          One common characteristic that most losing players share is that they only care about their own two specific cards and very little outside of that.

          If you want to start winning and become hard to play against, you need to learn how to be balanced and play different hands in different ways, depending on the situation.

          Furthermore, you need to stop trying to put your opponents on an exact hand and instead try to assign them logical hand ranges.

          Become better at putting your opponents on ranges with our free preflop charts!

          This is easier said than done, of course, but it is something you need to actively work on. After a while, it will become second nature to you.

          4) Too Much Hero Calling on the River

            Another common mistake that many beginners and bad players share is that they tend to hero call way too often on the river.

            The fact is, people don’t bluff a lot at small stakes. In fact, they don’t do it nearly enough. So, the only reason you might be thinking you’re being bluffed and keep calling in bad river spots is your ego.

            The best way to win in these games is to fold against tight river ranges and don’t allow your opponents to extract value. Get rid of your ego, stop hero calling, and make money in other, much more favorable spots.

            5) Not Defending Your Blinds Enough

              Players at small stakes often don’t defend their blinds enough. When you’re in the blinds, especially in the big blind, you’ll often be getting great odds to enter the pot, and you need to fight hard in these spots.

              When someone raises to two big blinds in a tournament, and you’re in the big blind, any suited hand, no matter how bad it looks, is perfectly fine to call with.

              A lot of people are afraid to play marginal hands out of position and think they’re better off simply folding. However, by giving up in spots where you’re getting such good pot odds, you’re simply leaving money on the table.

              The thing is, you don’t need to win these pots all that often to justify calling. When you pay one big blind to try and win the pot that will usually have 5.5 big blinds, you need about 18% equity.

              These are five of the most common mistakes low stakes players make. As you can see, all of them are fairly easy to fix. You just need to make a decision to plug your leaks and stick with it even if things don’t seem to be working in the short term. Keep in mind that poker is a long-term game!

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