The Big Mistakes


The most common misconception that we have about the game of poker is that it can be played to absolute perfection. But as any poker player with any experience under his belt will tell you, there is no such thing. But the fact is there is nothing called "perfect poker". Nearly all professional poker players admit that they make mistakes nearly everyday when they sit down to play poker. If you want to become a better poker player, the first thing is to recognize the fact that you make mistakes and then correct them.

Expert poker players know that the one aspect which is connected to big mistake and small is Expected Value. Luck connotes winning sometimes and losing sometimes. In the long run, the luck generally evens out. So, what matters in the long run in a poker game is the expected value of the bets the player is making.

The expectation or expected value (EV) of a bet is how much one is going to win in the "long run" by placing that bet. For example, a poker player has four spades on the turn, and requires a spade to hit on the next and final card in order to make a flush. In this case, he is certain that he is likely to win if he is able to hit the flush even in a scenario where the board does not pair. The possibility of catching spade is one in five. He is likely to loose most of the time but can win if he continues. For example, if the cost of calling a bet is $10 and the pot is $100, though the player has one is five chance of catching spade, as the pot is ten times the size of bet, he has probability of wining two dollars for each dollar invested.

The expected value is calculated in the following manner: For example, if the player has four spades and he needs one more for a flush, he has nine outs as there are 13 spades in the deck, and deducting the four he already has gives nine. So, 9 2= 18, i.e. 18% is the expected value with one card and 9 4= 36 (36%) in two cards.

While playing poker, a mistake is a play which has a negative expected value. To win big in any poker game, it is pertinent to understand the basic difference between big mistake and small mistake. Thus, a small mistake in poker relates to a decision with a component of small negative expected value. For example, one player is playing $.60-$2 no-limit and takes a decision which has a -$.06 expected value. Six cents is not much in a $.60-$2 no-limit game. This can be called a small mistake. A big mistake in poker relates to a decision with a big component of negative EV. For example, a decision which has -$15 EV in a $.60-$2 no-limit game can be classified as a big mistake.

The major mistakes a poker player is likely to commit are as follows:

1. One mistake a poker player keeps committing is called Slow Play. To play deceptively so as to lure opposition into increasing the pot is mistake. This can lead to sacrificing protection against hands which may improve. If the opponent also uses this tactics, there is risk of losing bet's pot-building value.

2. Next mistake is to play Suited Hands. Simply because they are suited, if the player plays hands, he is most likely to lose in the long run especially in Omaha due to additional hole cards.

3. A player should not protect his blinds. This is most common mistake. In a scenario where every player folds when one of them is in blinds and blind gets raised, the one with blinds will be able to save only few dollars and is opening door for his defeat. So, consider blind as an entry fee and an ante.

4. Next mistake is to play good starting hand when one misses the flop. It is prudent to lay down because the player may be chasing a hand which his opponent already has. This way he is playing against odds.

5. Another common mistake which poker players commit is to keep bluffing a weaker player. This tendency leads to turning the weak players on and they never get caught again.

Thus, if the mistakes referred above are avoided, one can win most of the times and at the same time enjoy playing poker.


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