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3 Common Poker Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Everybody has leaks. I don’t care if you’re Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, or Doyle Brunson. We’re all human, and humans make mistakes.

Not all mistakes are created equal, however. There are some problems that we see over and over again, and they all have a bad effect on your bottom line as a poker player. These are 3 common mistakes and what you can do to cut them from your game.

#1: You Care About Your Hand Too Much and Your Range Too Little

One huge mistake, especially among newer poker players, is only thinking about the two specific cards in your hand. Of course, it’s important, but don’t base every action you take off those two cards alone. Realize that when you take any action, you’re defining a range—all the different combinations of cards that would make sense in the situation.

If you want to be difficult to play against, you also need to learn to be balanced. If you bet, for instance, think about both the made hands and the draws that you could be doing it with. The same goes for checking. Don’t always take the same action with the same hand, and get into your opponents’ heads to ask yourself what they think you could have.

#2: The Games You’re Playing are Too Tough

You’ve probably heard the famous saying: if you’re the 9th best poker player in the world, and you sit down with numbers 1-8, you’re the sucker. It doesn’t matter how good you are at poker compared to the entire human race or even to other poker players. It only matters relative to the people you’re playing against at the table.

Understand where your win-rate comes from and select your table accordingly. Play games that are soft, and be disciplined in stepping down from a game that’s too hard. Don’t let your pride get in the way.

The same is true for your seat at the table. It’s an awful lot better to have a fish to your left than a shark.

#3: You Are Too Emotional About Short-Term Variance

Poker is a high-variance game. If you’re trying to stack up a ridiculous amount of chips in a short amount of time, you’re probably not going to make it. You’re going to get coolered. People will draw out on you. You’re going to get it all-in with 95% equity and still lose. The faster you can get used to it, the better off you’ll be.

Understand that volume cures variance, and you have to work hard and play a lot to print an edge. If you only play one tournament per week, for instance, it’s not uncommon to lose for months in a row, even if you are making all the right plays.

Take it all in stride, and don’t tilt off. When you go on tilt, you’re not going to play your best. And when you’re not playing your best, your win-rate can fall off a cliff. Keep your head up and keep grinding!


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