5 Most Common Mistakes That Cause You to Lose Money in Poker

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There is a fine line between winning and losing in poker. Winning poker players don’t always play flawless. Everyone makes mistakes. Even the great Phil Ivey occasionally calls off his stack when he’s crushed. However, the difference between Ivey – and other winning players – is he doesn’t continually make the same mistake. More specifically, winning poker players don’t consistently make these mistakes:

5 Expensive Mistakes in Poker

Mistake #1: Playing “short stacked”

Bankroll management is essential. If you don’t have a bankroll of at least 20x the buy-in you will likely go bust eventually. Also, don’t buy into games with a short stack. For example, in most $1-$3 NLH cash games, players can buy-in for $100-$300. Never buy-in for just $100. I suggest always buying in for the max or, at the very least, twice the minimum buy-in. Low stacks get pushed around by big stacks. Winning poker players are gutsy. You can’t be afraid to lose money.

Mistake #2: Ignoring pot odds

One of the worst mistakes a player can make is to chase draws just for the heck of chasing a draw. For example, if you flop an open-ended straight draw, your decision to call your opponent’s bet should be based on the odds (implied and actual odds). Calling just because you have a “feeling” you’re going to hit isn’t going to cut it in the long run. Mike Matusow wasn’t giving sound advice when he chanted, “poker, poker it’s all skill, start with the worst hand and go uphill” on TV during a WSOP years ago.

Mistake #3: Playing too many hands

Folding isn’t fun. I get that. I hate it when I’m at a table full of loose donkeys and the best hand I am dealt all day is A-10. Days like this will test any poker player’s patience. However, I know that if I continue being patient, eventually that one hand that makes my day of folding hands worthwhile. Unless your name is Tom Dwan or Daniel Negreanu, chances are you won’t benefit from playing 80% of the hands you’re dealt. Don’t play too tight, but also don’t play too loose.

Mistake #4: Only playing their own cards

Poker isn’t a card game. Doyle Brunson doesn’t just say that to sound smart. He means it. Poker is a game of psychology that just so happens to be played with cards. You can’t play winning poker if your only strategy is to play your cards and base your decisions on how strong your hand is. You have to base your decisions on the hand you put your opponent on. “I have top pair so I’m calling this all-in bet” isn’t a winning strategy. “I have top pair and my opponent played this hand like he missed a flush draw so I’m calling this all-in bet” is a winning strategy.

Mistake #5: Bluffing out of position in multi-way pots

Position is key in poker. If you’re first to act, you are not in prime bluffing position because you have yet to see how your opponents react to the board. When there are 2 or more opponents in the hand, bluffing in first position is almost always a risky play. However, if you are last to act and all players have checked it to you, bluffing may be a viable option. Your decision to bluff should be based on your position, your read on your opponent’s and the board texture. Boards such as K-Q-J aren’t great boards to bluff at even in position (a player or two may be waiting to check-raise). Boards such as 2-7-10 are prime bluffing boards.

Learn more poker strategy by reading our full section of poker articles.

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