If you’ve just started playing poker, then it’s worth being aware of the most common mistakes in Texas Hold’em and how to avoid them.
Sometimes they’re intertwined, with one leading to another, creating a vicious circle that can be quite hard to get out of.
While amateurs and recreational players are more likely to make these mistakes, even professionals fall victim from time to time, so it’s good to be aware of them – wherever you are in your poker journey.
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 the 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.
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’re 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.
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.
One way to avoid this is by training yourself to never, ever act immediately when it’s 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.
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.
4. Failing To Table-Select And Search For Good Games
If you’re looking to make some money then you need to approach the game seriously.
This includes looking for the best games and best situations to make a 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 won’t be profitable and 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.
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’s 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.
6. Getting Too Emotional While Playing
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 from the session before you make a poor decision.
7. Relying Too Much On Your Stats
Online poker players love tracking software and heads-up displays (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’re 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.
8. Failing To Adjust To Other Players
While it’s important to have a solid game-plan, you should also be prepared to adapt your plan 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.
Then there might be a player who won’t let you do it, so you need to 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 player.
There are many ways to adjust to different players, and being open to these changes during the play will help you win more and improve much faster.
9. Poor Bankroll Management
Once again, this is a mistake that relates more to serious players.
Sticking to a fairly strict bankroll management plan is essential for success in the long run.
This prevents you from losing all your 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, then future isn’t looking particularly bright if you want to play poker professionally.
10. Failure To Keep Learning
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 a money standpoint but also in terms of self-confidence and motivation.
Avoid this by constantly learning and improving your strategy.
The game changes all the time and players are always getting better – so you can’t afford not to!