You can’t expect to be good at poker the first time you play. As with all activities, you’ll need to go through the process of learning the rules, understanding tactics, and figuring out your strengths and weaknesses. The issue with poker is that you may be playing for more than just matchsticks, which means that your learning curve can be costly if you’re making too many errors.
While you can’t expect to dominate the table in the early stages of your poker career, you can improve your chances of winning a few hands — or, at least, not losing every round — by avoiding the common mistakes that new players tend to make.
Let’s take a look at what they are.
Not Knowing the Best Hands
New players tend to get a little too excited when they see a Jack, Queen, King, or Ace in their hand. They assume that the presence of one of those cards means they’re onto guaranteed success. But anyone who understands the game well knows that this isn’t the case. So rather than assuming that you’ve got a good hand, know for sure by reading up on poker hand rankings. Of course, even if you have a solid starting hand, there’s no certainty that you’ll win the round — for that to happen, you’ll need to play the hand well.
Playing Against Much Better Players
There’s value in playing against players who are better than you are. After all, if the game isn’t challenging, you probably won’t learn all that much. However, there’s a big difference between playing against better players than you and playing against much better players. If your opponents are several levels above your skill level, then you’ll be easy prey. Try to find games where you’re playing against opponents who are more or less of the same standard as you are.
With that being said, remember that, at some stage, you should step up and play more challenging games. If the games you’re playing are no longer difficult, you won’t progress as a player.
Playing With Emotion
There are games when playing with emotion can boost a player’s performance level. Poker is not one of them. Since this is an analytical game, there’s little room for emotion. New players tend to let fear or excitement influence their decisions too much. They hold back out of fear; they lurch forward out of excitement. Sometimes, players will continue with a dud hand because boredom is setting in. Letting your emotions guide your decision-making process won’t necessarily result in defeat, but it will increase the chances of it. You’ll be putting yourself at an avoidable disadvantage when you need every advantage you can get.
Taking The Same Approach Again and Again
There’s more than one way to win a poker game. Your strategy may be based on mathematics, bluffing, reading other people, aggressive or conservative plays, or anything else. While pro players recommend having one particular strategy that you like, it’s best to avoid becoming over-reliant on that strategy. Why? Because first, if you’re playing against the same players, then they’ll soon figure out your style of play. You’ll become easy to read. And second, you may overlook other strategies that could serve you well. The more diverse your playing style, the more likely it is that you’ll pick up victories. It’s all about becoming a well-rounded player rather than a one-trick pony.
It takes time for new players to become comfortable playing poker. However, you can expedite the journey towards success in the game — and hopefully, save some chips — by cutting out the errors that new players tend to commit. Best of luck!