Common Beginner Mistakes in Poker

A player participates in the European Poker Tour (EPT). Josep Lago/AFP)

Everything is hard before it becomes easy. You have to be willing to make mistakes if you want to learn how to play poker like a boss – and yes, you will make a lot of mistakes in the early going.

Even the best of the best had to start from Square One, so don’t let your ego get in the way; pay close attention to your game, and scour your results to see which of the following common errors crop up the most.

1. Calling Too Much

This is the No. 1 mistake most beginner players make – and most intermediate and advanced players, too. The temptation to call can be overpowering, even when you have the flimsiest of bluff-catchers, just so you can find out what mystery cards your opponent has.

It’s a very expensive case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and you have to get over it pronto.

2. Opening Too Much

Mistake No. 2 is similar in many ways to Mistake No. 1. After you get dealt your hole cards, it’s natural to reach for those chips (virtual or otherwise) when it folds around to you – because you want to play poker. Don’t let this happen to you. Open a tight range from early position, then loosen up as you move from middle to late position.

Remember, otherwise promising hands like small pocket pairs and small suited connectors in Texas Hold’em will get you in trouble if you’re under the gun.

Before raising, prior to the flop, ask yourself if it really is necessary? In the image, players compete during the Winamax Poker Tour. Thomas Sanson/AFP)

3. Bluffing Too Much

There’s always that one player (or two, or several) at the table who just can’t help themselves. They’ll fire away with just about anything when it’s their turn, or try to 3-bet you out of your shorts whenever you open. It’s better than playing a loose-passive style, but it also leaves you ripe for getting called down and exposed by smarter players.

Stick with good semi-bluffs; for the most part, avoid naked bluffs that don’t leave you any outs to improve when you get called.

4. Folding Too Much

Some newer poker players have the opposite problem – they’re risk-averse and don’t want to get themselves in too deep. This approach might save you from making the occasional big blunder with a loose call, but it can prove even more costly if you let your opponents walk all over you time and again.

Be willing to bluff when you’ve got a hand with good equity (like a flush draw or open-ended straight draw), and call down when you’ve got a decent bluff-catcher.

5. Playing Too Much

Even if you think you’ve got this poker thing figured out, you’ll put your bankroll in danger if you don’t manage both your time and your money properly. Never play poker when you’re not mentally and physically ready.

Always take breaks! Tired players make more mistakes. In the image, a gambler participates in the European Poker Tour (EPT). Josep Lago/AFP

If you find yourself getting worn out, losing focus, or just not having fun anymore, quit your session and come back another time.

And for the love of Doyle, don’t play at stakes you can’t afford. Especially this early in your development, you should be playing at the micro stakes, where you can afford to screw up frequently without driving yourself crazy.

There are many other common mistakes people make at the poker tables, but if you can take care of these leaks first, the rest of your game should fall into place. Keep playing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep your chin up. Fortune favors the bold.