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   Sunday, March 03 2024 

Poker Strategy

Common Beginers Poker Mistakes

  1. Betting out of turn.
    You must wait until the player to your right acts. If you bet out of turn this could give an unfair advantage to a player that did not act yet. If you raise out of turn a player that might had called could fold. Or if you fold out of turn you are giving an advantage to the player on your left who now knows you won't raise.

  2. Not knowing what the bet is.
    You have to know what the bet is when it is your turn. After the turn in a limit game the bets are double the amount they were before and after the flop. You must also be aware if the bet was raised.

  3. Folding instead of checking.
    Sometimes if the player does not like the flop or turn he will immediately fold when it is his turn. If you are first to act you can check. If everyone else checks, you get to see the next card for free. The same is true if everyone checks before it is your turn, you should also check. The free card may just make your hand.

  4. Throwing chips into the pot.
    Place your bet in front of you. This way the dealer sees that your bet is correct. He will scoop them into the pot.

  5. Not protecting your cards.
    Place your hands or a chip on top of your cards. If another player's cards mix with yours when they throw in their cards your hand will be declared dead.

  6. Throwing a winning hand into the muck. (Discards)
    The cards speak for themselves. Don't immediately throw in your cards if someone calls out a better hand. The dealer will declare the winner of the hand. If you missed a better hand than you thought you had you might just be the winner.

  7. Not controlling your emotions.
    Keep your emotions in check. The table is not the place for foul language or temper tantrums. It will not be tolerated. Besides it makes you look foolish. Veteran players as well as new comers occasionally make this mistake.

More Hold'em Excellence: A Winner for Life
The same losing plays are frequently repeated even when players should know better. In fact, some players repeat them even when they do know better. Players frequently seem to have more fun making the wrong play than the right one, especially when that long-shot gamble just happens to pan out. Perhaps it heightens one's sense of action by expanding and enriching that most sublime of thrills: gambling and winning - against the odds.

A recreational player I know - let's call him Fred- makes the same common mistake with maddening regularity. Although he has discussed this with me on more than one occasion, he persists in making the same play time and time again.

Since situations like this comes up all the time in hold'em, it's a very instructive one. Fred was in late position, heads up on the turn against Michael, a better-than-average player, who called the blinds from third position. There had been no prior raises, and both blinds folded when Fred bet on the flop.

Fred was holding Qh-9h. The flop was Qd-8c-7s. The turn card was the 7d. His opponent checked. Fred bet, Michael folded, and Fred won a small pot.

Twenty minutes later an almost identical situation involving Fred and Michael occurred. This time Fred was in seventh position and called an unraised pot with Qc-10c. The flop brought Qh-7s-5c. The blinds and Michael checked. Fred bet, the blinds folded and Michael called. This time the turn card was 3h. Once again Michael checked and Fred bet. Michael didn't throw his hand away this time. He raised. Fred called the raise along with a subsequent bet on the river, only to find himself looking at Michael's set of sevens.

Later that day I saw Fred in the coffee shop and he mused about how else he might have played that hand. I suggested that he could have checked the turn behind Michael. When he held the best hand, Fred's check might have induced a bet from Michael on the river - thinking he might be able to steal the pot. By checking the turn Fred would be able to win an additional bet by calling Michael's bluff - a bluff elicited by showing weakness when he checked the turn. Fred, however, represented a good hand when he bet on the turn and Michael made the correct play by throwing a weaker one away.

In the second example, if Fred checks he foils Michael's attempted checkraise. Sure, Michael will bet out on the river, and Fred will probably call with top pair, but at the very least he's saved a bet or two in the process.

When you bet the turn with top pair and a mediocre kicker, you're really hoping your opponent also holds top pair, albeit with a kicker worse than yours - or you're banking on him calling with second pair or worse. While there are some players who, without exception, regularly call with second pair, they are few and far apart.

But what does Fred do? He keeps betting in situations where he is probably an underdog whenever he is called. Remember, unless you think your bet will cause a stronger hand to fold, you probably should check unless you think you'll have the best hand when you are called.

If you hold Q-10 or Q-9 and are called by another queen, your opponent is much more likely to be holding Q-J or K-Q than a trash hand like Q-8. That's probably true even if he's only an average player, since it's usually the very weakest players who regularly call from early position with hands as weak as Q-8.

Moreover, most reasonable players will not bet a hand like Q-8 for value. Given an opportunity, however, they'll certainly bluff with it - particularly when you've purposely represented a weak hand by checking behind them on the turn.

That's what you want them to do. There's absolutely no sense in bludgeoning an opponent who's probably going to fold at the first sound of chips riffling through your fingers. Driving someone out who you're hoping will bet costs money. Players holding weak hands need encouragement - and gentle, prodding strokes, lovingly applied, can only help induce them to bluff.

But when this same opponent holds a big hand and checks, he needs no assistance whatsoever. He's hoping you'll bet so he can raise. He certainly didn't check because he's worried about his set being beaten. After all, what could beat him? Not much. In our example, there's no flush on board, and while a straight is a possibility, it is decidedly remote. Since the pot was not raised before the flop, the possibility of Michael losing to a bigger set is an even more remote.

When he's holding a set, your opponent is fat and happy. He'd love to see you holding top pair, or better yet, two pair. Anything that compels you to call with a tough-to-get-away-from weaker hand, he'll consider a godsend.

Examine your own game. If you're playing like Fred does, you're putting yourself in a "...head's I win, tails you lose" situation. When you have the best hand and think your opponent's hand is so marginal that he won't call your bet, you need to give him an opportunity to bluff in order to extract an additional bet. And by checking behind your opponent when he holds a big hand, you deny him the opportunity to checkraise. Remember, once checkraised, you are on the defensive and forced to decide whether to call your opponent's raise on the turn as well as his inevitable bet on the river.

For some reason I've yet to decipher, Fred has inverted this situation. He bets when he ought to be checking in order to induce a bluff, and he also bets when the likely calling hands are favored to beat him. It's not enough to think "I've got a big hand, I ought to bet." You have to consider what your opponent might be inclined to do. And if he's leaning even slightly in the direction you would like him to go, just an imperceptible little nudge is often enough to tip him that way.

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