- Don’t play every hand. Get comfortable with the idea of folding on as many or more hands than you play. This is one of the biggest mistakes beginner players make: because they want in on the fun, they stay in on hands that they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, playing more doesn’t mean winning more, or going home with more in your bank account. And along the same lines…
- Don’t bluff just to bluff. Everybody knows that bluffing is a big part of poker, but not everyone knows how and when to bluff effectively. Don’t just bluff for the hell of it, or because you’re bored, or because you haven’t bluffed in a while. It’s far better to never bluff than to bluff for silly reasons. Bluffing works only in certain situations with certain people: if you can’t give a reason why you’re bluffing, you probably shouldn’t be.
- Know when to fold. You shouldn’t stay in a hand just because you’re already in it. Beginning players often make this mistake, thinking “Oh, well I’ve already put $X in the pot, I may as well see it through to the end.” But think of it this way: that money’s not yours anymore, and if you’re holding a bad hand you’re just padding the pockets of your competitors even more.
- Don’t play when you’re drunk, distracted or emotional. Not only will you miss out on the subtle clues in the game around you, you’ll have a harder time figuring out odds and strategy. Plus, you’re more likely to make stupid or impulsive bets. You’ll also be more likely to call on so-so hands, place bets just for the rush, or go all-in on ill-advised bluffs. If you’re worked up about something emotionally, you’re more likely to take the game personally. Bottom line: when you’re in an off mood, you start out on tilt—playing with your emotions, not your head. That’s not how you win.
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