The poker world is full of information on how you should approach the tables. Of course, in today’s climate, not all that glitters is gold.
Oftentimes, a player will catch lightning in a bottle due to an auspicious set of circumstances. Before you know it, they become the latest poker czar. On other occasions, information gets tweaked slightly as it passes down from the elite players to the novice.
Regardless, here are the 7 worst poker strategies I see at the table regularly. Hopefully, you can avoid the pitfalls that have cost players their shot at glory.
1 – Never Limp With Your Aces
Pocket aces are as good as a starting hand as a player can hope for at the poker table. When you’re dealt pocket aces, you’re getting out of the gates with a tremendous advantage.
Many pundits will claim that you should never limp with pocket aces. Their main contention is that you should get weaker hands off the pot as early as possible to avoid somebody from backing their way into a set or straight.
This logic does hold merit. In most instances, you should play your pocket aces as the juggernaut that they are.
Of course, you shouldn’t be married to them either. If the flop comes K-K-3 and your opponent goes all-in, you’re probably beat.
There are certain occasions where limping with aces can be greatly advantageous. For example, if you play with a regular group of players, it can send mixed signals by limping in 5% of your pocket aces.
This will make it significantly more difficult for your competitors to play too aggressively against you because they’ll have those aces in the back of their minds.
Remember, the goal is to get as much money as possible into the pot, especially when you have a significantly stronger hand than your opponents.
You don’t want to limp every time. In fact, you should rarely slow play your aces.
However, the segment that never limps with pocket aces is leaving cash on the table.
2 – More Hands Give You More Chances
Sure playing with more hands will give you more opportunities to win a pot. Playing more hands is also going to cause you to lose more hands than you need to.
If you continuously chase pots with mediocre hands, you’re going to endure a significant loss over the long-term.
By siphoning money off your bankroll on these small to medium losses, you also take away your potential to maximize when the time comes to strike.
Most players will benefit from playing with fewer hands and focusing on the ones that give them the best opportunities to take down a large pot.
You’ll need to figure out the best way not to let that happen. Winning poker may seem tedious at the moment. Still, the rewards of walking away from the table a winner are far from mundane.
3 – Go All-in When You Have the Upper Hand
So, don’t go scaring your opponents off of pots when you have them beat.
Learning proper betting strategies is a key fundamental in playing poker successfully. When you brazenly push all-in early in hand, you miss opportunities to have your opponents add to the pot.
Sometimes it can be very tempting to go all-in after the turn. You are sure you have your opponent beat, and you want them to scurry away before they catch a weak flush or straight on the river.
Why not let them stay in hand by placing a value bet disguised as a bluff?
Learning the fine line between betting too big and too small takes time to learn. In fact, it’s impossible to perfect because your opponents regularly rotate.
What looks like a flat out bluff to one player may seem like a huge bet that pushes another off their hand.
Skip going all-in every time you have your opponents beat; you’ll be surprised how many times they’ll take care of that for you.
4 – Thinking Your Omaha Chops Will Hold up in Hold’Em
The truly elite poker players can play any game effectively. They have spent years perfecting their poker prowess. They probably know more about every variation than most players know about any particular one.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing you’re better than you are. Winning a small Omaha tournament doesn’t necessarily translate to having the skill necessary to make money playing Texas Hold’em.
Your best bet is to focus on one game at a time. This way, you experience the full learning curve of winning and losing.
So, by focusing on proficiency in one game at a time while gambling in a casino, you’ll be far less likely to drain your bankroll regularly.
Playing small $1/$2 games is a great way to begin the transition from one game to another. Beware that sharp players know where the fish are and sit on these tables waiting for costly mistakes.
5 – Bluffing More
These players almost always take the approach of bluffing more. They may have seen Phil Ivey go all-in with Q/J suited one time and think that’s how you play the hand.
Never considering that Ivey may have been down to his last big blind.
Seeing that you are playing pots with good hand sticks in your opponent’s head, making it much easier for you to bluff down the line.
Bluffing less has another beneficial side effect. Other players will become far less likely to bluff you.
Seeing you play hand after hand to completion with strong hands makes it extremely difficult to attempt the bluff.
6 – Varying Your Opening Bet Amount
There’s a school of thought that you should vary your opening bet by 2-4x during tournaments. The idea is that you’ll keep your opponent guessing on a range for you because the bet amount is regularly changing.
However, it leaves out the important step of varying your raise amount. If you constantly vary your bet amount but fail to change up your raise amount, you’re missing the boat.
There’s rarely any reason to bet 4x the big blind pre-flop. This is needlessly taking risks you don’t need to.
You’ll be better off sticking in the 2-2.5x range and saving those chips for when you have your opponent beat later in the hand.
Always keep in mind that chips you lose are opportunities lost later in the game when an opponent tries to bluff you off a full house or nut flush.
So, although the small losses may not kill you in the short term, the smaller wins when it matters is what can slowly drain your chip stack.
7 – Raising for Information
Players will often raise to try to determine where they stand in the hand.
Interesting play, but how much information are you really getting? If your opponent folds, what good does that do?
Say your opponent calls; that gives you zero new information. He could have a draw, or he may have you dead to rights and is slow playing a big hand.
What if your opponent re-raises?
It could be a bluff, or they might have a huge draw.
Raising for information can be a fruitless endeavor, and it may be a costly one. Pay attention to your opponent’s play and use previous hands for your intel.
This will be a much better barometer of what your opponent is sitting on.
Avoiding the 7 worst poker strategies at the table will have you walking away from the table a winner more consistently. Any losses can hurt just as much as wins help over the long haul.
That’s why the fastest way to win more is to lose less.