Dirty Dozen

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12 mistakes that lead to losing hands

Today we will summarize what we have learned from our discussions in previous columns on the top mistakes that poker players are likely to make.

We started with the 10 Top Mistakes in order of importance based on the votes of our Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Lab members.

Then we added two more important mistakes submitted by readers of GamingToday (each of whom has been rewarded with a signed copy of my book, Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision).

As we developed this series of columns, it became apparent that we really could not justify ranking one mistake higher than the others, since we do not have a scientific criterion for grading them.

Each is important in its own right. In considering this list – our “Dirty Dozen” – it would be advisable to try to best understand and avoid making each of these. Therefore, we will summarize these mistakes at the poker table with appropriate comments, without trying to rank them in order of importance.

In many cases, you may not have realized that you have been making that mistake. Now there is no excuse. If you have been reading our columns in GamingToday, you should be aware of each of these 12 top mistakes – the “Dirty Dozen” – that can make the difference between a winning and losing session.

Indeed, these mistakes are so important that I guarantee you will be a loser if you fail to make appropriate corrections. Analogy: If you persist in making the wrong turn at an intersection, will you ever get to your destination?

Study and see which of these mistakes you are prone to make – and, very important, decide what you can do to avoid them. (If you get a chance, let us know how avoiding this mistake has improved your fortunes at the poker table.)

While these mistakes are primarily based on playing in limit hold’em games, they would apply to all varieties of poker.

The Dirty Dozen

The 12 Most Significant Mistakes Players Make

Playing Too Many Hands: This is one of the most common and flagrant mistakes made by PokerPigeons. (Note: Anyone who pays to see the flop more often than one out of four deals, on average, is probably a PokerPigeon. He “came to play” and will provide a great chip source for your winnings.)

Playing A-Rag Off-suit: Everyone loves an ace in the hole, but it can be big trouble with a small kicker.

• Neglecting the Poker Odds: Smart players use the card odds and pot odds to make prudent “investments” at the poker table.

Not Betting for Value: When you hold the likely winning hand, try to get as much money into the pot as possible. After all, your goal is to win money, not see how many hands you can win.

• Unable to Throw Away “GOOD” Hands that are Losers: It’s hard to fold pocket aces; but there are times when it is wise to do so.

Poor Money Management: Allow for “variance.” Don’t lose back all of your winnings.

Poor Table Selection: All tables are NOT alike. Play at a table that meets your criteria.

• Lack of Focus: The information that escapes you can cost you a lot.

Over-Confidence: You can be too confident to the point of overlooking important information. A closed mind is a loser.

Not Reading Opponents: It is important to “read” your opponents playing style and then “read” their hands.

• Neglecting “Tainted” Outs: Clean outs are preferred; make allowance when an out is tainted.

• Over-Playing Small/Middle Suited Connectors: Suited connectors are beautiful to behold; but all suited connectors are not alike.

Meanwhile, try to avoid making these mistakes. They are notorious… and can be very costly!

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at [email protected]

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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