One of the best ways to win money in poker is to take advantage of your opponents’ mistakes. Conversely, one of the easiest ways to lose money is to make those mistakes yourself.
When you’re still learning the ins and outs of the game at low stakes, mistakes are more plentiful. It’s important to recognize what they are so you can simultaneously limit the ones you make and capitalize when your opponents when they make them.
Here are six common mistakes, also known as leaks, made in low-stakes games.
Letting emotion take over
This can happen to even the best players, but it is important to limit how often you let it happen to you. You might lose a pot you should have won, but you should not get angry and try to get that money back as soon as possible. That only complicates matters and leads to more mistakes. Stay calm. Stay patient. If you play well, you will win in the long run.
Early in your poker career, you may want to play a lot of hands without risking a lot so you limp into the pot preflop. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but folding to every preflop raise after you’ve limped in IS a bad thing. You waste too much money for nothing. The best way to protect yourself against this is to only limp in with hands you are also willing to call raises with. Eventually, you want to be doing the raising yourself.
Paying off tight players
This is another way to waste a lot of money. You’ve made it to the river and one of the tightest players at the table bets into you. You have an OK hand, but it’s not great. You think it might be good, and in some cases, it is worth a call. You have to recognize when you’re up against a tight player because tight players usually don’t bluff and even need a strong hand to bet on the river. Sometimes not calling bets with good hands can save you money.
Mixing up your game is extremely important in the long run, so don’t bet the same amount every time you have a certain hand – no matter how strong it is. If you have the nuts and you always bet big, then opponents will recognize that and refuse to pay you off. Likewise, if you have a bad hand and you always bet a tiny amount, then opponents will recognize that and raise you or call you. Learn to be unpredictable.
If you’re just beginning, you may not have a lot of money to lose in poker. For that reason, you don’t want to spend it all right away. Pace yourself, perhaps by limiting yourself to one buy-in or two buy-ins. This gives you time to learn the game by playing more sessions.
Learn from your mistakes
The most important mistake of all is not learning from your mistakes. It doesn’t matter how long you play the game, you are going to slip up now and then. You should take notes either on paper or in your head and go over hand histories after your sessions. Focus on what you could have done better so the next time you encounter that situation you can play more optimally.