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Poker Lessons and Articles by Tom McEvoy
Poker Lessons and Blog by Tom McEvoy
More Rookie Mistakes
Tue December 23, 2008, 2:17 pm

Here are 5 additional mistakes that I see rookies make all too often.

(6)  Not making the proper bet. Betting is the whole key to no limit hold’em. Overbetting or underbetting the pot are the most common mistakes that rookies make. They flop a big hand and get so excited that they move in or bet far more than the size of the pot. That usually scares everyone away, unless they have the nuts against you or something close to it. Amateurs want to win what is already in the pot, instead of trying to maximize the most money they can out of their hand. Sometimes you need to give your opponents enough rope to hang themselves. Overbetting often drives them out when they would have called a smaller bet. Really big hands are few and far between. When you get them you need to make the most of it. Underbetting is also a common mistake. Normal post flop bets should be in the range of half to two thirds the size of the pot, sometimes even more. Making small bets like 25% of the pot or slightly more than that often give your opponents the chance to draw at you very cheap, with large implied odds if they make their hand. Not charging drawing hands enough to make them fold so they are getting the right price is always a mistake.

(7)  Unwillingness to gamble on a coin flip when circumstances demand it. Often you reach a stage of the tournament when the blinds are so large, you cannot go through more than one or two rounds before your stack disappears completely. If you are in this situation, a coin flip such as a pocket pair against two overcards, or the reverse, is exactly what you need to look for. If your going to go broke very soon if you do nothing, then look for an opportunity to either steal the blinds, gamble with any pair, including deuces, or any two face cards. Even if you know your going to be called—after all, short stacks do get called far more often that medium or large stacks, its still the right play. At some point you simply have to double up in order to have any chance. You have to be willing to die in order to live.

(8)  Not folding correctly. Bets saved are just as important as bets earned. Getting married to your big pairs and not giving them up when its obvious they are beat is a major and often fatal play in rookies game plan. A classic example is pocket Kings or even worse, Queens. You are early in the tournament, the blinds are $25 & $50 and a player raises it to $150. You have Queens and decide to make it $450, which is a very reasonable play. Now your opponent comes back at you for $2,000 more. He is sending you a message, listen to it. If you started with $10,000 in chips, it costs very little to surrender at this point. Naturally, if I am willing to fold Queens, any lesser hand should also go into the muck. Now lets change the circumstances slightly. You have pocket Kings in early position and your make it $150 to go. Your opponent now raises you and makes it $450. Well, you have the 2nd best starting hand in hold’em, so you decide to find out right now how strong your opponent is. You raise him back another $1,500. He hesitates a moment, looks at you, calls your bet and then re-raises $3,000 more. At this stage of the tournament what in the world do you think he has? Well there is only one possible hand unless he is a total nut job. Pocket Aces. Save your remaining chips and live to fight another day.

(9)  Not being aggressive enough. When your opponents are playing very passive and checking to you, it often means they don’t have much. This is especially true if you are in late position and its now been checked to you twice after both the flop and the turn card. This is the perfect time to make a bet and try to pick up this pot. There are lots of “ownerless” pots when a bet will take it down with or without a hand. Aggressive players know this as do the pros and take advantage of it as often as they can. Even amateurs know this, but just can’t force themselves to pull the trigger. Many times you sense weakness, and even if you are first to act, you can overcome your positional disadvantage by being the first player to bet. Go by your gut instincts in these situations and fire that bullet. You will be surprised how often you will take down the pot without a hand.

(10) Being unaware of your table image. Quite often amateur players have no clue how they come across to their opponents. They fall into certain playing patterns and seem powerless to change them. Their alert professional opponents will eat them alive if they don’t change gears. You must be thinking how your opponents perceive you at the table.Do they think your tight, loose, solid aggressive, timid, never bluff, or bluff too much—what do you think they think of you. This is especially true when your in a hand. You must take your thinking to higher levels. Your trying to read them, and they are trying to read you.

  • What do you think they have?
  • What do you think they think you have?
  • What do they think you think they have?

It gets even more complicated than that, but you get the general idea. So what do you do about it? Do the unexpected. Cross them up and make a play, now and then, totally contrary to your image. Of course you have to be aware of your image first. This takes work and practice, and the best time to do this is when your not in the heat of battle at the moment.

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