What amateur poker players usually say, and how it is different from what the professionals are thinking.
Poker is a popular game with the widest range of people: beginners, amateurs, sharks and pros, are all after the combination of exciting pastime and getting rich by a few pennies, well more than a few in some cases. With less restrictive American gambling laws, the game will soon gain even more popularity it enjoys now. But what sets the professionals apart from the rest of the field?
There’s no doubt the poker elite has much more skills than the rest of us. However, very few know that the professionals are using a different approach to the game and even a separate strategic vocabulary. Basically, the pros and the amateurs think about poker in completely different ways, and naturally the pros win almost every time.
Let’s take a look at what poker experts believe to be the worst things to say about a poker game if you want at least to ooze an impression of being slightly knowledgeable about the game, sitting in one of the American poker rooms.
”I’ve folded or called to minimize variance”
This is one of the most common mistakes beginners and amateurs have been doing for years. The obvious train of thought is that players can’t lose what they don’t put in the pot. But little by little players become even more passive and the chips start to fade away to blinds.
This way of thinking leads to refusing to re-raise a nice pocket pair before the flop, or calling a raise with a good bluff-catcher. In other words, whenever there’s a choice to make, which seems pretty close to players, they choose the option of not putting more money into the pot and just folding.
And the most common explanation for this is “I’m trying to cut down my variance”. It might only seem that the chips lost in this strategy are tiny. The whole approach doesn’t work. Poker and especially winning at poker need players to be aggressive. In order to play a strong game, minimizing the risks all the time simply won’t work.
Pros will definitely bet every time they see these marginal call or fold decisions, and subsequently they will prey on the weaker players most of the time. The elite have no definition for this tactic, simply because they don’t use it. Most of them enjoy a high-variance game, and it has been proven to be a much more successful approach.
”I thought he had an Ace-King”
Sure he did. Beginners and amateurs say this all the time, and most of these times they are completely wrong. This is true for both land-based and online poker sites in the United States. And it’s not just about the AK, any hand can be in its place.
The biggest mistake beginners make is simplifying the game to the limit. Naturally, expecting a player to have an AK is the shortest way to simplicity. When trying to read other players’ hands, AK pops up to mind right away and blinds them from reading correctly. Subsequently the following play depends largely on the assumption of AK.
The mistake is very easy: it’s virtually impossible to narrow down players to having a single hand and always be right about it. The better way to do it is saying “I put him on a weak range of hands”, and this is what the professionals say. This simply means an opponent can have a wider range of hands.
”I raised to win it all immediately”
This happens all the time when amateurs have strong hands on a dynamic board. Say there’s a two-tone flop with connected cards and a player has an over pair. If they are bet against, beginners will most certainly raise and justify it with “I want to take it down now”.
Most common mistakes of amateur poker players
• Experts share their views on the most common mistakes amateurs make
• The common phrases refer to playing both at land-based and online American poker rooms
• If you want to improve your game avoid making these
It’s worth remembering that good hands are only good after the river. Raising a flop and winning it doesn’t require you to have a monster hand, you might just as easily raise with a 9-2. Avoiding showdowns when you have a great hand is never a good strategy.
Of course the above-said doesn’t mean it’s absolutely wrong to raise your strong hand, it’s the “winning right now” logic, which is completely wrong here.
The pros always talk about raising ranges. Taking a look at a dynamic flop, the elite will immediately calculate every possible hand, and then divide those hands into a folding, calling, and raising range, where raising range can have two parts: big and small.
More often than never, the elite will immediately be able to judge what range a certain flop falls into, this takes years of practice or in some cases a little mental gymnastics before the game.
”I know they are bluffing. I will see them with whatever I have next time”
Another common behavioral pattern. It’s not easy to forget that someone keeps on stealing with bluffs. But players need to remember that even if someone bluffs for a hundred hands straight, it doesn’t mean they will do so on the 101st occasion. More experienced players say that a 1000 hands is needed to be able to create a meaningful understanding of a person’s patterns, some argue that even a 1000 is not enough.
Amateurs tend to draw their conclusions on a very small number of hands. “They always bluff” or “they only play the nuts” and so on. It’s very hard to draw these kinds of conclusions based on one day of play. Beginners fall victims to this pattern all the time.
Naturally, the pros take a much more cautious approach. Of course they steal read their opponents and make strategy adjustments based on those readings. However, these changes are only a tip of the iceberg which is their base strategy. Most of the times, the poker elite is thinking in terms of ranges, and it applies to all sorts of decisions. Rush decisions don’t come hand-in-hand with winning at poker, it’s a fact.
One piece of advice to all amateur players, who want to improve that is, is to get rid of all the uncertain thinking. If by any chance you find yourself thinking any of the above-mentioned: it’s high time to alter your game.