As new poker players, we don’t always have to learn from our mistakes the hard way!
By listening to suggestions from experienced players, it’s possible to avoid some of the most common mistakes right from the start.
Let’s consider a list of 5 common beginner mistakes and discuss them in more detail.
Table of Contents
- Playing events that are too expensive
- Not watching the other players at the table
- Not preparing for a long day at the tables
- Spewing chips after a long day
- Relying too much on stereotypes
Mistake #1. Playing events that are too expensive
It’s essential to only play poker with money we can afford to lose. In most cases, you should only use a small percentage of your money set aside for poker.
Any single poker tournament can be over in minutes. We might love the idea of playing poker all day, but the cards can have a completely different notion.
Although it’s not usual to bust in the first level of a big event, it’s certainly possible. It can happen to anyone and I’m speaking from personal experience. We want to have enough poker funds to enter another event without worrying about our finances.
Ultimately, it’s tough to play our best poker game if we are concerned about the amount of money we have invested. The additional stress likely means that we won’t make good decisions. If losing a tournament buy-in would make our life difficult in any way, then it’s not the right tournament for us.
We’ll get to the big buy-in events in the future if we focus on playing smart in the short term.
Mistake #2. Not watching the other players at the table
Poker is a game that is as much about playing the players as the cards. If we can figure out what types of opponents we are playing, we can make much better decisions at the table.
It can be easy for new players to get distracted when not involved in a hand. Perhaps they are busy checking their Twitter feed or the latest news articles rather than watching the action.
Paying attention to the action when not involved is an essential part of becoming a strong player.
As we watch the action, we can think about the following -
- Who are the tight players?
- Who are the loose players?
- Which players like to slowplay?
- Which players like to bluff?
- Which players never bluff?
- What does it mean when a player uses different bet sizings?
- Do any players have a physical indicator or ‘tell’ that gives away information?
We just might try testing ourselves at the tournament break.
Can we list at least one thing about every opponent on our table?
Of course, poker should still be fun. We might not want to take out a notepad and jot down detailed notes on every player.
But watching critical parts of the action can significantly impact how well we do in a specific event.
Mistake #3. Not preparing for a long day at the tables
Running hot in poker means we could potentially be at a poker table for hours. This situation is especially apparent with live poker tournament events where we can expect to be at the poker table for 10-12 hours.
Of course, it’s possible to get knocked out before that, but it’s good to be optimistic and always prepare for the whole day.
Take a look at the following checklist to help you prepare:
- Clothing - Casinos are notorious for being either super cold or uncomfortably warm. Sometimes they’re actually both in the same room! We should carry comfortable clothing that can either keep us warm or allow us to remove a layer if the room is too hot.
- Water and Snacks - Casinos have refreshments, but the lines can potentially get very long. Having our supplies will allow us to make better use of our breaks or avoid missing any tournament action.
- Phone Battery - It’s never a great feeling to have a dead phone in the modern world. We should consider bringing a spare battery or power bank so that we can stay connected no matter how long the poker day is.
It’s perhaps no surprise that many poker players carry backpacks! An appropriate bag will cross off all the items on the checklist.
Mistake #4. Spewing chips after a long day
Our brains don’t function at their best after 10-12 hours of intense concentration. Towards the final levels of a long poker day, it will be much harder to make high-quality decisions. We might find ourselves spewing off chips, a mistake I definitely struggled with in the beginning.
We can’t force our brain to make good quality decisions when tired. But we can be aware of the fact that our judgement is worse at the end of the day. Try to avoid close or difficult situations that we might typically take when our mind is fresh.
- Sometimes boredom can make us play cards we wouldn’t normally.
- Perhaps we set a goal for the stack we wanted to end the day with, but we haven’t reached it.
In such situations, we need to keep in mind that we can’t force things to happen in poker.
Either a profitable situation is there, or it is not.
We should prefer to reach the next day of the tournament with slightly fewer chips than to bust out because we spewed in a bad spot.
The good news is that everyone is in the same boat. With careful play, we may be able to take advantage of other players who are making mistakes towards the end of a long day.
Mistake #5 Relying too much on stereotypes
It’s easy to make snap judgements about our opponents based on their appearance. For example, in poker, there is a stereotype that the younger poker players wearing hoodies are the top professionals while the older players are just there for fun.
While this may be the case sometimes, it won’t always be true. We are reaching the era where the original generation of online poker hotshots is now quite a bit older. They are still incredibly skillful, but now with 15+ more years of experience.
These pros might easily be much more formidable opponents than a fresh professional who has only played for a couple of years.
Although it’s not unreasonable to consider how our opponents look as part of our process, it’s not the most critical thing.
- How our opponent plays will give us much more information regarding their abilities and overall play style.
- Watching our opponents’ bet sizings is an excellent way of figuring out their skill level.
- Understanding bet sizing is one of the main things that sets amateurs and strong professionals apart,
By watching how our opponents play above all else, we’ll see how well our stereotypes match up.
Avoid These Common Mistakes!
Here is a quick summary of the common beginner mistakes discussed in this article:
- Only invest what you are willing to lose (which should be a small percentage of your bankroll for each tournament).
- Pay careful attention to the other players at the table even when you are not involved in a hand.
- Be prepared for a long day, especially when playing live tournament events.
- Play more cautiously at the end of a long tournament day. Don’t force the action.
- Don’t rely too much on appearance and stereotypes. Assess opponents by their play style and quality of play.
This list is a great starting point. But there are other common beginner mistakes.
Which ones would you add to the list?