Common Beginner Mistakes in Online Poker

Published: 11/12/2010

“To err is human.” That adage certainly applies to beginning Online Poker. Players who learn from their mistakes quickly become experienced and knowledgeable. Those who fail to learn the lessons of their errors are doomed to repeat them. But those who learn from the mistakes of others are wise indeed.

The following examples are offered as an opportunity to avoid some very common beginner mistakes. Most of them are specific to playing online, although some pertain to offline Poker games as well. Learning from these miscues of others is a sure way to get on the fast track to consistent success at Poker online.

Game Hopping – Stud or Draw? Five cards or seven? Hi/Lo or High hand only? There are many types of Poker and all of them can be fun and profitable. Texas Hold’em is now by far the most common form of Poker played online; most beginners start here, where competition is readily available at all levels of play. But be aware that Texas Hold’em is usually offered in three very different versions: Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit. What’s more, ring games (cash games) are different from tournaments. Each of these has its own strategies for betting and play, so don’t switch back and forth expecting to become proficient at them all. When starting out, play one game and stick with it until mastered before moving on to another.

Choosing the Wrong Room – Most Poker sites have dozen of games going at any given time. Choice of a room should be based on the amount of experience one has with the game being played, the size of the blinds or antes relative to one’s bankroll, the number of active players, and the speed and level of play. Don’t enter a game unless all of the criteria are right. Playing in a room that is too rich, too fast, too skilled, or too crowded is an easy way to lose big.

Unfamiliar with the Controls – Online Poker software differs slightly from site to site. Many rooms are set up with Auto Blinds. Most have default settings for betting, calling, and raising. Some have toggles for common actions such as mucking hands. Understanding what control options are available and applying them properly is every player’s responsibility. Study the technology before getting seated at the table. Too often mistakes are made by pushing the wrong buttons, not by misplaying a hand.

Being Overly Aggressive – The odds are that every player at the table will catch a winner once each round of deals. Yet there is a tendency among beginners to stay in every hand, hoping they can somehow improve upon those odds. Anyone who is still betting on the last card more than one in three hands is being overly aggressive and will lose before a truly opportune hand arrives. Patience is the key to success in Poker online or off.

Over-Rating Hands – Weaker hands may be playable from late positions if players ahead are folding, but beginners often forget that a hand’s value must be even stronger in the early positions or when many players are in. Especially in ring games, paying to see the flop on anything less than an A-K or a pocket pair is a costly way to gain experience. Folding a small pair is not a bad action at all if two or more players have already called the blinds, bet or raised.

Going for Coin Flips – In many forms of gambling a 50-50 chance of winning constitutes good odds, but in Poker it all depends on how much is in the pot relative to what’s required to stay in. When the true odds of success are lower than the pot odds, it is a better strategy to fold than to risk a shoot out. This is especially true of going “all in” when playing a no limit game. Risking more than can be won is rarely the right choice.

Published on: 11/12/2010

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