These days it's rare to find a good player that does not play aggressively, especially in tournaments. The downside to this phenomenon is that it puts a lot of players in the position to take a major loss where a tighter strategy may have otherwise better protected their stack. It is easy to feel confident after stealing several blinds or taking a big pot. Before you know it, you’re playing loose and fast as your confidence overrides your caution. In scenarios like this, it’s easy to walk yourself into a trap or set yourself up for a large and unnecessary loss. Successfully playing poker long-term requires more than skill and style; it also requires control and consideration. While you can’t win every hand, you can minimize your losses. Here are the three biggest mistakes that good players make.
Whether you’re playing poker online or at the Big Game in Las Vegas, it shouldn’t take long to determine the playing style of each of your opponents. Armed with this knowledge, you know who you can rely on to fold and who you can rely on to call. Even some good players get a high off of pushing their opponents around, but don’t let a God-complex get in the way of rational playing. You can rest assured that while that tight player will fold a middling hand to an oversized bet, they may call even the most outrageously oversized bets on a strong hand, essentially causing you to trap yourself.
A lot of amateur players get excited when they realize that they can control the action at a table full of fish or tight players just by betting big. Word to the wise: if you over-bet frequently (especially every hand), another player will eventually get the nerve and the cards to call you.
The bluff is undoubtedly the most fun and famous move in poker and when executed correctly can be quite profitable for a player. The secret to bluffing effectively is moderation. If you play a tight-aggressive strategy, your opponents will quickly learn that you only bet on hands worth protecting, so on the rare occasion that you bluff, no player at the table is likely to challenge you. If you bluff frequently and aggressively, just as with over-betting another player will eventually call you on it. Not only that, but the odds are good that at some point your bluff will come up against a certifiably good hand. A player with a good hand that’s already wise to your bluff will let you do the betting for them, yet again forcing you to trap yourself. Use this move rarely and choose your bluffs wisely and you can still rake in some quick wins while avoiding unintentional losses.
Playing on Tilt
Other than a bad beat, tilt is every poker player’s biggest fear. This overwhelming mental condition fogs your mind and destroys your judgment, turning even the tightest of players into reckless calling stations. Time and time again, experts have advised players to leave the table when they go on tilt, but many players insist that they can play through it. It is a rare few that genuinely can. We know it’s hard to walk away from the table after a big loss when instinct tells you that right now you should be trying to win those chips back, but it’s that irrational, vengeful mentality that destroys even the best player’s poker game. Remember that poker is a game of odds, and odds are that no matter how good you are eventually someone will beat you on luck alone. Once you can accept these losses, it will be easier to avoid tilt, but until that day comes we still recommend standing.
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