Common No Limit Hold'em Mistakes

There are a variety of common mistakes that new players make at the internet poker tables without even realizing it.  The simple act of eliminating these mistakes, without changing anything else, could even turn a lot of losing players into small winners.  Just add in a little studying up of the strategy, and these small winners could turn into big winners.

Some of the most common mistakes include:

1. Playing Too Many Hands Preflop
2. Playing On Tilt
3. Not Laying Down Big Hands
4. Betting Way Too Much Or Way Too Little
5. Drawing To Second Best Hands

Playing Too Many Hands Preflop

Poor preflop play is the first bad habit no limit beginners must rid themselves of.  It is deceptively cheap to play a bunch of hands because the cost to enter the pot is small compared to the potential size of the pot.

The real problem isn’t the immediate cost of entering the pot; it’s the difficult decisions you’re going to have to make once you’ve jumped in with a weak hand.  Playing weak hands will get you into tough situations in big pots.  This is especially true if you play those weak hands from out of position.

Read our sit and go strategy to learn the best tips for Internet poker or for five card draw strategy. Plus, you can even play seven card stud or try to play Internet poker.

Another hidden cost comes from the possibility of a raise behind you.  If you limp in to a pot with a weak hand, there’s always the chance that someone behind you will make a big preflop raise.  Then you either have to fold and lose money without even seeing a flop or you have to pay more money and play from out of position.

On average, a good poker player plays about 20% of his starting hands.

Playing On Tilt

Tilt is a nasty thing for poker players.  If you get angry or even just a little frustrated and let that alter your play, you are officially on tilt.  Sometimes tilt even comes in that desperate, “I have to win this money back TODAY” form.  That desperate, need-to-win-now tilt is just as dangerous as the angry type. 

The easiest way to recognize you are on tilt is if you actually feel angry or get that antsy, have-to-win-now feeling while playing.  As soon as you can feel that emotion, it’s going to affect your play no matter what you say.  Take a quick breather, get some fresh air and come back refreshed.  If that doesn’t work, then find something else to do for the rest of the day.

The next step is to actually make yourself quit when you are on tilt.  You eventually have to quit every game, but the key here is to quit as soon as you begin tilting.  You don’t want to finally quit after you’ve played for an extra three hours and tilted away a couple thousand dollars.  You want to quit as soon as that $97 bad beat gets to your head.

Trust me, you’re not going to make any of your money back as soon as you tell yourself you want to stick around and make it back.  Don’t waste your time and money.  Just stop now and play again tomorrow.

Not Laying Down Big Hands

Laying down big hands is easier said than done, so don’t feel bad if you mess this one up, like, all the time.

The ultimate key to laying down big hands is to completely separate yourself from both the strength of your hand and the money you have invested in the pot.  If you can be cold hearted about both of those, you are golden, baby.

The strength of your hand is not determined by the two cards in your hand alone.  The true strength of your hand is based upon the strength of those cards vs. the strength of your opponent’s hand.  It takes a little hand reading for you to know how you stand against your opponent.

Let’s say you have a set against a passive opponent who loves to chase.  If you bet on the flop and all the scary draw cards hit on the turn and river and that passive opponent suddenly makes a huge bet, you’re probably in trouble.  The fact that you have a set cannot make your decision for you.  You must decide how likely it is this opponent hit his hand.  If you think it’s likely, then you really have no option but to fold.

It’s not fun to fold big hands, but it is a part of poker and you’ll get used to it eventually.  Besides, the extra money you make at poker will more than make up for the occasional disappointment of having to fold a big hand.

Betting Way Too Much Or Way Too Little

The point of correctly sizing your bets is to get opponents to take the action you want them to take.  If you take it too far, though, it becomes counterproductive.

For example, a $75 bet into a $42 pot as a bluff is counterproductive for two reasons.  First of all, it’s risking way too much to win way too little.  Your bluffs will get called sometimes, so it doesn’t make sense to risk so much money for such a small pot.  Second, a huge bet just looks fishy.

On the exact opposite side, an oversized bet with a good hand is counterproductive because it will lower the rate of calls you get.  No, this doesn’t mean that the above paragraph was wrong.  There is a point of diminishing returns with large bets with both bluffs and strong hands.

Betting way too little is just pointless.  What does a tiny bet accomplish?  Basically nothing.  I guess it might induce the occasional bluff, but even then that bluff is cheaper than if that opponent tried to bluff you after you made a real bet.

With strong hands, small bets don’t make you any money.  Yes a normal sized bet will get called less than a puny fifty cent bet, but the normal sized bet doesn’t have to get called nearly as often to make you some decent money.

Additionally, small bets don’t protect your strong hands.  If an opponent has a draw and you make a small bet, you are giving that person great odds to hit that drawing hand.  If you give an opponent good odds to chase a draw, they are profiting and you are losing.

And last, tiny bets with bluffs don’t work very well either.  There is the very rare post oak bluff that attempts to mimic a strong hand by putting out a small bet, but don’t worry about that for now.  It rarely works because you have to know your opponent very well and he has to be capable of folding to small bets.  The chances of pulling it off in a small stakes online cash game aren’t worth the trouble.

Drawing To Second Best Hands

This is one of the most expensive mistakes a poker player can make.  It is expensive in three distinct ways.  I am going to use an example to help describe the situation.

In this example, you are drawing to a flush on a board that has a pair showing.  This means the board is something like 77K with two of your suit showing.

If your opponent already has a full house, the worst thing that can happen is you hit your flush.  You’re going to lose a lot of money to the full house. Chasing this draw is unprofitable if you’re not getting the correct pot odds.  So now not only are you chasing against the odds, but even if you do hit, you are going to lose.

If your opponent does not have the full house, you probably won’t make much on the hand anyways.  Your opponent will see the pair on the board and the possible flush showing.  That’s a lot of scare cards for someone who doesn’t have the full house or the flush.  You’ll be lucky to make anything in this situation.

So because of those three reasons, don’t chase non-nut draws.  The same thing goes for chasing straights on paired or flushed boards.  In the long run, it’s a losing proposition.

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