10 Ways Texas Hold’em Beginners Bleed Money


New players to the game of Texas Hold'em are prone to several very common mistakes.

Avoiding these traps and mistakes will improve your game vastly and, importantly, save you a ton of money.

Poker Olymp's Jan Meinert walks us through the most common, costliest errors beginners make in Texas Hold'em and how to stop making them:

1. Ignoring Position

Position is one of the most important aspects in every Hold'em game. The later your turn to act in the hand, the more information you have to base your decision on.

In late position you can react to your opponents’ actions rather than guess what they might be up to. That's why the "button” is the best position you can have.

From late position you can play a lot more hands than from early position, where you have to be much tighter.

Tom Dwan
Aggression is good, but not always for beginners.

2. Being Too Aggressive

While it's certainly important to be aggressive when playing poker, it's even more important to choose the right timing for it.

If it’s likely your opponent has a fairly strong hand, don't try to get him out of the pot by betting big. In the long run, this will cost you a lot of money.

Be aware that in a game with eight or more players one of them usually has a strong hand.

Trying to push them off of it is almost never a good idea - people usually don't like to and will not fold when they have a decent hand.

3. Giving Away Too Many Tells 

Many new players play and act according to the hand they’ve been dealt. More experienced players can read them like an open book.

Try not give away too many tells (easier said than done, we know). Try not to react when you get dealt aces or hit a flush and don't pout when you don't hit the flop or get dealt 7-2.

It seems obvious but it’s always amazing to see how many beginners just can’t stop physically reacting to their fortune (or misfortune).

Learning how to conceal your emotions is crucial when playing live poker so take some time to practice it.

4. Sizing Bets Poorly

In No-Limit Hold'em many new players often get confused by what amount to bet and, as a result, bet way too much or way too little.

Mark Betts
Bet sizing is critical.

For example: It makes virtually no sense to bet $1 into a $25 pot. If you have a decent hand, you don't get much money in the pot and you will certainly not succeed with such a small bet if you were trying to bluff.

An easy rule of thumb is: Bet according to the size of the pot. A bet between half the size of the pot and the full amount is always a good size for a bet.

5. Playing Too Many Hands 

Playing too many hands is one of the most common mistakes beginners tend to make. Successful players play between 10 and 30 per cent of their hands.

A beginner should try to aim for the lower number. Many hands might look decent (King-Ten for example), but usually they are money losers in the long run.

Just throw those hands away before the flop. 

6. Ignoring the Number of Players at the Table

The number of players at the table is a big deal for hand value.

A key factor to Hold'em games is that the value of your hand decreases with the number of players left to act.

If you only have two opponents, a hand like Ace-Eight is a very good hand.

But if there are eight players left to act your hand is virtually worthless as there's a very reasonable chance someone has a better ace or big pair.

7. Playing With Scared Money

Don't ever play at limits that exceed your financial capabilities!

You will face a mental barrier when there is too much value attached to the chips in front of you. You will have a very hard time making good decisions and play "scared money" while your opponents are in their comfort zone and prey upon your weakness.

Rule of thumb: If one buy-in means a lot of money to you, you're sitting at the wrong table.

8. Calling Like There's No Tomorrow

Phil Hellmuth
Emotion at the table costs you.

Beginners tend to think that poker is about "making your hand." So they stay in the hand until the river to see whether they hit their hand or not.

That's terrible and expensive thinking. Poker is not about hitting your hand. It's about winning money.

If it's too expensive to see the next card, just let it go! If you don't think there's a realistic chance for you to win the hand, either by bluffing or winning at showdown, just let it go!

Every chip not lost is as valuable as any chip won.

9. Letting Emotions Dictate Play

Many poker players, not only beginners, have ego problems when playing poker. Their emotions - not their mind - dictate the way they play.

But poker punishes emotional play. You can't force the cards to fall your way and you have to be able to withdraw when you're clearly beaten.

Be patient and don't make bad decisions based on emotion – too many players (even experienced ones) go broke this way.

10. Over-valuing Suits

Beginners often over-value a hand when it's suited. King-Five of spades might look like a playable hand because it can make a flush, but flushes are quite rare in Hold'em.

With suited cards you will make a flush only roughly 8% of the time. It's not advised to count on that.

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