It's A Sin To Mistake Bad Play For Bad Luck!

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While the naive will be tempted to define poker as a simple game of cards that you play with other people, advanced players agree that this is actually a game of people played with cards. Since the human factor has a very important role to play in this game, mistakes only come natural. This is why I can state from a broad point of view that winning at poker means understanding the distinction between big and small mistakes.

What is a poker mistake?

In my opinion - and I'm confident many of you agree with me - a mistake in poker represents a play with negative expected value. Even though it sounds fancy, expected value refers to the wager ROI and should never be confused or placed in the same sentence with luck. In addition, expected value is also a term directly linked to odds. Therefore, luck comes and goes and in the long run, it evens out.

Here is an example: let's assume you are playing $0.5 to $1 no-limit Hold'em and you made a bad decision costing you 5 cents, while your opponent lost 20 dollars. Even though both of you lost, judging on the sums, your mistake can be classified as a small mistake, whereas the other player made a big mistake. Why? Well, because of these 3 main reasons:

  • Pot size
  • The odds of the opponent having certain card combinations
  • Wrongfully evaluating the value of the hand you are about to play

Based on the aforementioned, let's review some of the big mistakes that prevent even the advanced players from winning at poker.

No value bets

Even though any poker player knows how to properly bet with a good hand, the advanced player has the experience and the skills to get a maximum value out of marginal hands. Simply put, betting is done in accordance with the game (poker variation), the overall situation at the table and the type of opponents.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of players are aware of this, some of them seem to be betting randomly and this is highly noticeable in no-limit Hold'em, where the player needs to read the opponents' cards first in order to determine if he should enter the game and how much to wager.

At the same time, the type of opponent you are playing against in no-limit Hold'em is also important in value betting. While a professional player will place a wager after analyzing the odds, the casual players will call bets that are typically just as strong as what they have. Therefore, value betting implies that you realize the type of player you are against and place a bet that is not too large, since you want him to call.

Faulty game selections

Thinking that you are the best at any poker game is a rather tricky attitude. On several occasion I've witnesses advanced poker players looking for and engaging in the biggest game they can find. After all, they know this game so well they can leave the table with the most cash after playing just a few hands. But, you know the old saying: if you don't spot the sucker at the table after a few minutes, then it is best to get up and leave because you are him. My advice is to always choose your game based on expected value for you.

Another common error typical for ego-driven advanced players is to experiment with numerous poker variations. I'm not saying that trying out new games is not fun and that you should completely refrain from doing so. But before you start playing, you should read something about those particular variations, since you cannot play limits the same way you do at the poker game you have mastered.

Playing without paying attention

Although this seems like a first-timer mistake, the truth is that many advanced players are so accustomed to the game and they have the experience to make the right decisions in most situations that they stop paying attention completely. Ironically or not, most players will still win thanks to their experience and knowhow of the game. However, not concentrating on the game also means playing with negative expected value and hence, limiting the amount of cash you can win.