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5 biggest mistakes poker players make

5 biggest mistakes poker players make

The truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, but here it comes:

You’re making mistakes every time you play poker.

And you know what? That’s absolutely fine, as long as you do something about it. The first step to getting better is admitting you have leaks. By reading this article, you’re doing just that.

The crazy thing is that every single poker player makes mistakes every time they sit down for a session. Yep, even the poker superstars you watch on Twitch or on TV. But they work hard to rectify those mistakes, ensuring they get better every single day.

Can you honestly say the same? If not, today is the day to turn things around.

Let’s get to it.


PLAYING TOO TIGHT

It sucks that the adage ‘tight is right’ is a catchy little rhyme because if it wasn’t, it might not have cemented itself in the brains of so many poker players.

Naturally, there are times when you absolutely must play tight; on bubbles and on final tables when ICM knowledge is crucial, for example. But for the most part, playing too tight is one of the biggest mistakes poker players make.


To improve your final table play, check out our recent article:
How to play a short stack on a final table: calling vs all-ins’.


For starters, people don’t 3-bet enough. Instead, they opt to flat call off a wide range. This strategy sucks, as BBZ coach and tournament GOAT Jonathan “apestyles” Van Fleet explains.

“Three-betting strategies make you tougher to play against,” says apestyles. “When you play poker and you’re playing to make money, you’re not there to make friends. You’re there to make the best decisions possible and to play the best you can.”

Aggressive play is something that even BBZ founder Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond (a.k.a. BBZ) gets called to task over when he’s streaming on Twitch. He’ll face an open, look down at J10-suited or A5-suited, and shove for 30 big blinds. Then his viewers will lambast his play without understanding the reasoning behind it.

“Ask yourself the question: if I have a strong hand, how do I bluff?” says BBZ. “I would also shove for 30 big blinds with AK-offsuit, or pocket tens.”

But if you’re only shoving for 30 big blinds with those strong hands, you’re going to be shoving with far too strong a range. “You need to make sure you’re offsetting this range with some bluffs,” BBZ adds.

Then there are simple adjustments you can make to your game, like studying opening ranges from different positions and with varying stack sizes. If you’re new to poker, you’ll be shocked at how many hands you can open profitably.

Tight isn’t always right. So if you find yourself unable to build big stacks in tournaments, this might be why: you’re playing too tight!


FOLDING TOO MUCH

While folding too much can tie in with playing too tight, it’s a separate mistake due to the vast range of situations in which many players fold when they simply shouldn’t.

Whether you should call or not is often a numbers game which can be solved through mathematical exercises (BBZ covers this in detail in his ‘Intro to Quantitative Strategies’ video below).


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“Let’s say you’ve been playing passively and you’re the in-position player in a hand which has been checked all the way to the river. Your opponent then bets a quarter pot. Now what?

“You call. A lot,” says BBZ. “We’re going to have some hands which raise, of course, but the lion’s share and the backbone of what we do to counter this bet size is call. We’re going to call 80% of the time, as our opponent bet a quarter of the pot.”

It’s another aspect of BBZ’s game which the Twitch chat pros have a hard time comprehending.

“They’ll see me call with really wide ranges and call me a fish,” says BBZ. “But I’m just trying to play the game properly. There are principles which govern no limit hold’em and calling a lot happens to be one of them.”

Stop folding too much. Think of all the pots you’ve abandoned by throwing your hand away.


UNDERESTIMATING VARIANCE

There are no two ways about it: poker is a volatile game. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

The quicker you realise poker’s volatility, the sooner you’ll get over the downswing you’ve been on.

“Most people don’t have any clue about the swings they should anticipate in poker, even professional players,” says BBZ. “They massively underestimate variance and don’t know what’s possible.”

You can easily lose 75 buy-ins if you’re grinding poker tournaments. According to BBZ, that’s standard.

“If you break your downswing down, a lot of what you’ve lost will be at the higher part of your curve, so you’ll really have only lost around 20 buy-ins.”

This is a slippery slope and can lead you to play in games your bankroll can’t afford. You’re trying to get even, but really you’re just on the road to going broke.

“You’ll also put yourself through emotional swings that you shouldn’t be on,” says BBZ. “Even the biggest winners go on downswings.”

Make sure you avoid any psychological warfare by understanding tournament variance before you start to play.


FEELING ENTITLED TO WIN

Always remember this, particularly if you’re in the middle of a downswing: poker doesn’t owe you anything.

BBZ has zero time for players who feel like they’re entitled to win.

“Success isn’t going to be handed to you,” he says. “Nobody cares about what you’ve done in the past.”

When you enter a poker tournament, you’re competing. Why do you deserve to win and not the player next to you? What are you doing to get better?

“There are killers out there who are studying all the time, putting in tons of work, grinding it out, watching videos on BBZPoker, they’re after it and they’re trying to get better,” says BBZ. “A sense of entitlement isn’t there with them.

“Then you’ve got guys who won money three, five, ten years ago and they cling to those victories. I’ve seen this in all forms. But today, they’re not studying or doing anything to deserve to win, but they still feel like they’re owed something.”

Even the most successful players like BBZ and apestyles have to get after it every day.

“I’ve studied tons and I don’t believe that if I play I’ll just win,” says BBZ. “I have to keep studying. I have to keep earning it every single day. I have to step in there and rip out a win-rate and rip out an edge.”

Go. Now. Get after it. Nobody is going to do it for you.


NOT STUDYING ENOUGH

What’s the first step you have to take to get after it?

Study. Study again. The study some more.

“When you’re at the early stage of your poker career, the ROI on your studying will be extraordinarily high,” says BBZ. “The better you get, the more work you’re going to have put in. But at the start, even looking at hand range charts can be mindblowing.”

Don’t misallocate your time. Don’t spend too much time playing and not enough time studying.

We know studying poker isn’t as appealing as playing. But your playing will be enhanced by studying as you’ll feel confident and excited to try out all the new strategies you’ve learned.

Your bankroll will be enhanced, too.

So what are you waiting for?


Do you want to improve your overall game? Good news. You’re not priced out of poker coaching anymore. Get the BBZ Bundle today for just $99.99.

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