Beginner's Mistakes to Avoid in Online Poker
Online poker is very much a game that is considered to be relatively simple to understand but more complex to master. This can result in beginners playing the game to make a number of mistakes. Here is a list of beginner's mistakes to avoid.
1. Don't Over Commit
One of the most important lessons when it comes to learning how to play poker online is understanding the art of self-control and discipline. It is too often seen amongst new players that if a rival player raises with a bet or re-raises then the novice can get easily sucked in to betting more than they should. This can not only see you losing more than you can afford but it can also give away a major tell to your rival players that you do not have the ability to know when to fold.
2. Know When to Stop a Bluff
The art of bluffing is exactly that, an art. It is a tactic that can make or break players at the table. The secret is to know the strength of your bluff but also to know when time has run out. Bluffing is a two way street. It requires your opponents to work out whether you are bluffing or not but it also requires you to know whether your opponents have sussed your bluff out or not. Misjudging your own bluff can end your involvement at a table. If an opponent knows you're bluffing without you being aware of that fact then you could become lured into betting dangerous amounts on the back of a nothing hand. Never be afraid to submit a bluff
3. Revealing Your Cards
Some people think that revealing your cards to show what you had after a player folds can be a sign of arrogance or gamesmanship. Indeed, it can be an effective tool. It can plant a seed of doubt in an opponent's head if you reveal your cards after they have folded to show you were bluffing. If you are planning to bluff later on in the game then showing your cards after a win if you have a strong hand can give your opponents' the impression you do not mess about. The big mistake to make is to randomly show your cards after every winning hand. This can give away big clues about how you bet and what patterns of play you display throughout the game. Revealing your cards, if done correctly, can be a fantastic weapon at the table. Unfortunately, it does carry a risk of unveiling slightly too much about your style of play if not done appropriately.
4. Do Not Lose the Mental War
Poker is a game where every possible advantage is used to gain the upper hand. Playing online is no different. Players will use any tactics necessary to earn an edge and this includes trying to start a mental war with their opponents. This could consist of a player using the chat function to wind fellow players up or using a more aggressive style of play to try and bully their opponents. Do not get involved in any mind games unless you have complete confidence in your ability to come out on top. Losing the mental war can often be the beginning of the end at the table.
5. Calling with the Weaker Ace Hand
One of the biggest traps a beginner can fall into is overrating a hand that contains a single Ace. It is easy to get excited when an Ace pops into your hand but if the other card is of a low value then the landscape across the table is treacherous. Particularly if the flop, turn, or river contain a high value card. There is a strong possibility that someone will possess an Ace with a higher value card or even a better hand such as a pair, three of a kind, four of a kind etc. Just because you have an Ace, it does not guarantee a win. In fact, it can sometimes have the opposite effect and see you get into all sorts of trouble if you do not manage your betting sensibly.
6. Missing the Value Bet
This is one of the most common mistakes made by beginners at the poker tables online. If you enter the river and your opponent is checking then it can often seem like the safe option to check with them. The river is then revealed but it turns out your opponent has just a slightly better hand than you. You lose the pot having never even attempted a raise. If your opponent is checking and you think they don't have a hand of any great value then place a value bet to scare them off. More often than not the sight of an opponent betting will see the opponent fold. If the opponent calls your bluff and matches your bet or raises then even if you lose you're not much worse off than if you just checked out and lost.
7. Never Underestimate a Beginner
As a beginner, this is a very fundamental and bizarre mistake to make. Professionals and experienced players will very rarely attempt a bluff on beginners because they know that beginners do not play to the grain and are deemed to be more unpredictable than more experienced players. A beginner will frequently not opt for the most sensible or most logical option. This can see attempted bluffs back fire on experienced players in a big way. The same can be considered for beginners versus beginners. Do not underestimate a beginner and try a bluff. The beginner might not do what you anticipate them to do. A very strange mistake for a beginner to make given that they are a beginner themselves but it does still happen.
8. Betting Too High with Small Pocket Pairs Before the Flop
This is a mistake that is commonly used by players that have just exited their beginners phase. They are starting to get a grasp for how the game works and they feel confident enough to try and limit the potential number of opponents pre-flop. However, there is a danger to this. If you bet too high when you have a small pair in your pocket cards pre-flop then you might as well stand on top of the table and shout “I have a pair of low value cards!”. The trick is to keep your opponents guessing. You don't want them to know what you have but you want them to think twice about betting. Bet enough so that those players with nothing will fold and those that have something will bet so you know who might be a threat.
9. Calling with a Small Flush Draw
So many times you hear of people that played at a table where they lost out because they had a lower value flush hand. At initial glance, it can seem like one of those hard luck poker tales. However, if you look a bit deeper it is often because the player was ignorant and naïve on the draw. This is especially relevant if you are involved in a multi-way pot. Be aware, before you match any bets or bet yourself, of just how high a value your flush draw is. If your highest value card in the flush is a 5 then you might want to re-think your stance. On the flip side, if the Ace is on the table already as a community card then use that to your advantage to eliminate any players who are still in the hand hoping to hit a non-flush hand.
10. Pocket Rockets
The last bit of advice concerns the term “Pocket Rockets”. This is when you are dealt a pair of Aces as your pocket cards. It's a great feeling but if any pocket hand can be a cruel mistress then it is the “Pocket Rockets”. The key to making the most of this hand is knowing how to tame them. At their worst they can get you sucked into all kinds of trouble at the table. At their best, they can see you take a huge pot and eliminate players from the table. “Pocket Rockets” do not guarantee a win. They are the best possible pocket cards you can receive but they are not flawless. Do not be afraid of folding with a pair of Aces if there is a high chance that higher valued hands are available on the table. It's one of poker's most frustrating feelings folding a pair of Aces but it can also be one of the most effective game-changing actions if you have the humility to cut your losses and avoid getting drawn into a dangerously large pot.