Mistakes happen in all facets of life, poker is no different

Jul 17, 2018 3:00 AM

We are only human; we all make mistakes. That happens both while playing poker and in life. (Why are there so many divorces?) At least in poker, the mistakes can only cost you some chips (money).

Let’s do a series describing some of the more flagrant – and avoidable – mistakes at the poker table that we might make, usually without realizing them as such at that moment.

If you misread your cards, and then realize it too late, costing you a bunch of chips, it’s your own fault for being so careless. Likewise, if you misread the flop because of your eyesight or seating position at the table. (Perhaps you forgot to take your eyeglasses with you when you left home that day.)

But what if you misread your hole cards because the dealer rushed you to act? That’s a bad mistake too. But the real mistake here was you allowed the dealer to rush you to make a decision before you were ready.

The dealer and the casino like to speed up the game. Then they both gain more money (chips) from the players as more hands are dealt out: More tips for the dealer, and more rakes for the casino.

This mistake is easily avoided: Just don’t let the dealer rush you to act. It’s OK to take a reasonable time and it’s OK to tell the dealer so. (After all, it’s your money at stake.)

Sometimes it may be the opponents to your immediate left. Let’s suppose it’s been checked to you on the flop. You are in the UTG+1 position, and about to bet out after catching top pair, Queens, with a Jack kicker. You want to protect your top pair, which is quite vulnerable.

But, before you can act, the UTG+2 quickly announces, “check” and the UTG+3 promptly does the same – as if they had rehearsed – while you are holding the chips in your hand, ready to lay them down on the board. “Hey, I was about to bet,” you shout aloud. The dealer responds: “Sorry, there were two checks by players after you. The check stands.” You have missed your opportunity to protect your vulnerable hand. The turn puts a pair of 7’s on the board.

This time on the turn, no sooner do you make your bet when – surprise! – the UTG+2 raises. He is a fairly loose-aggressive player. If he held a pair bigger than your Queens, he would not have been so anxious to see the turn for free. It’s unlikely he is bluffing. Most probably that 7 on the turn helped his hand.

Nevertheless, you call his raise, and then his bet on the river after you check. Showdown: He turns up K-7, and takes the pot with trip 7’s. You lose. This sort of thing happened to me several years ago, and I’ve seen it happen to others.

How could you have prevented this situation? What mistake did you make?

Answer: Before the UTG+2 declared “check,” you should have announced either “time” or “I am betting.” With K-7 offsuit, most likely he would have folded. He got a free card to see the turn – and connected.

On the other hand, it can be to your advantage if an overly zealous opponent to your immediate left declares before you have acted. He has given you valuable information – even better than a tell. Let’s say you are debating whether to invest more chips in this hand. He acts out of turn, making a raise. You know he is a fairly tight player, unlikely to be deceptive. Take him at his “word;” he has a big hand.

Now you can comfortably fold, secure in the knowledge you have saved yourself a bunch of chips. It was his mistake. This happens fairly often. Welcome his right to make such a mistake – and don’t complain. Just be sure you don’t make this mistake. Wait you turn to declare.