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Texas Hold em - Common Mistakes

You may know the Texas Hold’em rules, but that just isn't enough to make you a winning player. Poker is a complex game, with many pitfalls to avoid. Here are a few common mistakes that good Texas Holdem players know to look out for.

Texas Hold'em Mistakes - Pre-Flop

One costly thing many players, especially new ones, like to do is slow play big pairs before the flop. To slow play means to intentionally not bet a strong hand in the hopes of acquiring additional callers and winning a bigger pot. There are two big problems with this idea.

The first problem is that you must realize that your hand is not as likely to improve as dramatically as other hands. If you have a high pair, only two good things can happen for you on the flop. Either another card if your rank will appear, giving you a set, which is unlikely, or the flop will come rags, three unconnected cards lower than your pair. If a card higher than your pair apears on the flop you will have to worry that your pocket pair, which did not improve, is now beaten. On the other hand, anyone playing with a flush draw or a straight draw on the flop has many ways to improve to a hand better than yours later on, but remember that against draws like these you still are a 2:3 favourite. The problem arise when there are several players on the flop with different draws, because then you become the underdog, despite the fact that you lead on the flop. For this reason it would be no great tragedy if you won the pot before the flop, or saw the flop with only one opponent, even if the pot is not as large as you would like.

The second problem is that if you don't bet, you have no idea where you are in the hand relative to your opponents. Let's say you are in late position with QQ and you flat call the blinds. The flop comes 6 2 2 of mixed suits. A great flop for your hand. It is checked to you, and you bet. Surprisingly, you are raised by the big blind. If you had made a substantial raise before the flop, you could still be relatively confident that you have the best hand. Now however, you are at a loss. Since the big blind saw the hand for free, he could have anything, from A6 to 62. Now this hand can become very costly for you. In most cases, it makes sense to put in some kind of raise before the flop with your big pair, just to establish yourself in the hand.

Texas Hold'em Mistakes - Post Flop

A big mistake players tend to make is only paying attention to their own hand. Here's an example. You're sitting in a no limit game with As 3s. The flop is Ah 4s 6s. A great flop for you, giving you a pair and the nut flush draw. An opponent in front of you makes a small bet and you call. The turn is the Th. Your opponent, visibly excited, makes an even larger bet. You realize he has a strong hand, but you are drawing to the nuts, so you call. The river is the Ts. Jackpot! You made your flush. Your opponent immediately pushes all-in, and you call just as quickly, waiting to drag your large pot. You are dismayed to see your opponent turn over the Ac Td, for a full house and the best hand. It's possible that you would have felt compelled to call anyway, but your failing to realize that the card that makes your hand could make a bigger hand for somebody else can be quite expensive, especially if there are many more chips left to go into the pot on the river.

As you can see, there are many complexities to understand in Texas Holdem, many nuances that separate winning players from losing ones. If you keep these two pitfalls in mind, you will be well on your way to finding yourself consistently on the winning side.


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