In the time I have been coaching, there are many common mistakes that students who are new to poker make. From what I see, it’s due to a lack of experience, knowledge, or studying outdated concepts.
The strategies students grow attached to are ones that they think are safer and easier to play. Most of the time, this is incorrect. These strategies lead to them getting exploited or outplayed. Beginners fail to progress through the micro stakes because they continue to make the same mistakes.
This is the list of the 3 biggest (and most common) beginner poker mistakes. These are tendencies I have picked up on these since I started playing, and you should avoid making them:
Mistake #1: Playing Too Many Hands
New players love to play as many hands as they can. This is because often, they don’t understand how bad the hand they are playing is. They also know that more cards are coming that may improve their hand. This is fine if you want to gamble in the short term but terrible for long-term success.
When you play too many hands, you’ll often arrive at the flop without hitting a pair or a draw. The is the number one reason playing too many hands is a losing strategy. Your holding is weak, forcing you to fold to a continuation bet or make unprofitable calls a majority of the time.
Another side effect of playing too many hands is the way that they get played. This is often passive with limping or flat-calling.
Limping into a hand in a cash game is a huge leak:
- When you make a strong hand, the size of the pot is not significant enough to make a profit. This means you can’t justify the risk you took playing it.
- You don’t get to steal the blinds (make money without seeing a flop).
- You give information away to your opponents about the strength of your hand, which makes you highly exploitable.
Mistake #2: Being Too Passive
By not 3-betting or 4-betting, you allow the hand to progress to the flop. This prevents you from wining money immediately pre-flop. It also allows your opponent to improve in the hand.
By betting too small or too infrequently, you allow your opponent to realize all their equity. This means that if they have a worse hand, you allow them to see cards for free or get good odds to continue calling. You don’t protect your hand by making your opponent fold.
This passivity also fails to inflate the pot by the river. Flat calling or raising at inappropriate times has similar negative consequences to limping. You fail to extract the maximum value with your strongest hands, especially in the long run.
Part of the problem is those beginner players who do raise, often only do so with their strongest hands. They have few bluffs making them more predictable, making it easy for good players to exploit them.
Mistake #3: Calling Too Wide
I see this on both the turn and the river. On the turn, beginners like to call with all their draws, regardless of the odds or their outs. This causes players to arrive at the river with a lot of busted draws, meaning they must fold. This isn’t profitable. To make sure this is not you, make sure you’ve brushed up on your Essential Poker Math.
On the river, what I often see players call with are all of their top pair holdings, every time. To get better as a beginner, start by using all the information given to you throughout the hand. When you get to the river, you’ll have a much better understanding of what your opponent is likely to have. This can help you decide if your call is profitable or not.
Try not to be the player who calls with any pair on the river.
- Play a Solid Range of Hands Pre-Flop
- Don’t Limp Pre-Flop
- Be More Aggressive on All Streets
- Understand the Math Behind Poker
- Think More About What Your Opponent Has in a Hand