The cards were dealt, and the bets were placed. As Rahul peeked at his hand, excitement and nerves coursed through his body. This was a chance to win it all. But he knew one wrong move could cost him the game. Poker requires both skill and luck to emerge victorious. While luck plays its part, minimizing mistakes is key. As a growing number of Indians take an interest in the game, it’s important to avoid common pitfalls that could ruin your chances. If you’re looking to play poker online, consider downloading a poker app that offers a great Poker App download experience on mobile.
1. Tilting off chips
One of the biggest leaks in a poker player’s game is tilting or getting overly emotional and playing poorly as a result. It is human nature to get frustrated after a bad beat or coolered, but skilled players are able to compartmentalize emotions and make rational decisions even on their downswings. Blowing your stack in anger after a bad beat is a sure way to kill your win rate and bankroll. The key is having a level head at the table. Take a breather if you start to feel yourself getting tilted—stand up, get a drink, use the restroom. Come back with a clear mind, ready to make the soundest decisions possible, rather than chasing losses in anger.
2. Playing with Too Many Hands
A common beginner mistake is playing too many marginal hands, trying to see more flops and action. This is especially true in ring games, where there is no time pressure. However, playing too many hands thins your edge and increases variance. The best players are selective, only playing strong starting hands and solid speculative hands from position. Tighten up your ranges, especially from early positions, and only play hands you are comfortable seeing a flop with. Be patient and wait for quality opportunities rather than playing every hand dealt.
3. Playing out of position
Playing too many pots out of position postflop severely damages your win rate. Only play strong hands from early and middle positions that you are comfortable playing multi-way. Tighten up your ranges significantly, and the more players you will see act behind you, From the blinds, only play premium holdings that play well multi-way, like big pairs, AK, etc. Avoid speculative plays out of position where you are likely to see multiple streets of betting.
4. Chasing the draw
While hitting draws can feel great, stubbornly chasing the same draw repeatedly is a losing strategy. Know when to give up a draw if the odds are not in your favor. Don’t get results-oriented, thinking, “I’m due to hit this flush draw soon.” Accept that sometimes you will miss your draw multiple times in a session through variance. Protect your stack by folding marginal draws postflop rather than stubbornly seeing them showdown time and again.
5. Bluff-catching too often
Some players have a tendency to over-call river bets, hoping their opponent is bluffing. While bluff-catching is a necessary skill, calling too light without proper reads is bad. Only call river bets as a bluff catch if you have strong implied odds to hit your hand based on your opponent’s range or if you have a solid read; they are bluffing frequently. Don’t feel obligated to call every river bet, hoping for a hero call. Raise or fold—don’t get into the habit of calling too light without a solid reason.
6. Playing too passively
Some players err on the side of being too passive. While this protects their stack in the short run, it severely damages their win-rate long term. Look for spots to steal blinds and antes with solid speculative hands. Three-bet light from position to take down the blinds. Don’t bet flops for value. Don’t be afraid to put pressure on opponents and exploit their tendencies. Poker is a game of aggression and exploiting opponents’ mistakes; don’t be too passive and give opponents free cards and free wins.
7. Chasing Losses
It is human nature after a bad beat or downswing to want to “get it all back” by playing tighter, taking riskier lines, and putting more money in. However, this is usually not a good idea and will only exacerbate losses in the long term. Accept variance as part of poker. Don’t try to force it by playing outside your normal strategy. Take a break, clear your mind, and get back to making sound decisions with your regular win-rate-focused strategy. Protect your bankroll long-term rather than chasing short-term losses at the risk of going bankrupt.
The key takeaways for players looking to shore up their game, whether it is online poker or offline, are having a balanced, well-rounded strategy, protecting your stack with tight ranges, avoiding tilt at all costs, and accepting variance as an inevitable part of the game. Focus on the long term by making the best decision possible each time rather than results-oriented thinking. Implement these concepts, and you’ll be well on your way to minimizing costly mistakes at the tables. Good luck at the tables!