If you are a new poker player it is all too easy to get carried away and some elementary rookie mistakes which can cost you money and affect your confidence. In this article we will take a look at some common poker mistakes and how you might avoid them and improve your chances of becoming a winning player at the tables. What follows is primarily aimed at tournament poker play techniques and strategies.
New players can have a tendency to go "all in" for too often. They've seen it on TV and it looks cool, right. Wrong. There is a time to get all those chips in and timing can be everything in tournament poker. Remember that if you do go "all in" then you risk getting knocked out there and then by a player who calls you with a bigger chip stack. Unless you win the hand you're out of there. Don't shove those chips in too early and risk an early exit unless you are sure you're going to win the hand. Think hard about it. You might do if you have a big chip advantage and can knock out an opponent with a smaller stack without jeopardising your chances. If your chip stack is dwindling then you may have to go for the hail Mary all or nothing shove and hope for the best but unless you absolutely have to, save the "all in" for the right time. Another common newbie mistake is not betting aggressively enough with good hole cards or generally trying to slow play at the wrong time.
Even pocket aces are all too often beaten after the flop so if you have great hole cards then do not be afraid to throw in a raise or even a re-raise to flush out the bad hands and narrow down your opponents. Think about this one. Your have those glorious pocket aces though do not raise thinking you cannot be beaten. Seven of the other ten players at your single table tournament call. Your hand does not improve on the flop. A player betting before you throws out a huge pile of chips. What do you do? If you call all you have is a pair of aces. Has your opponent with the big bet made a better hand on the flop? You simply do not know and any of the other six could have your aces beaten. However a big bet from your pre-flop could have narrowed down the field. A big decision for you to make. Moral of the story. If you have a great hand, bet accordingly as in tournament play it's about accumulating chips when you can so you can stay in and edge towards a money finish. Conversely if you get in to a pattern of over betting (i.e. betting way too much in relation to the size of the pot), which is another rookie sign then you run the risk of your more experienced opponents picking up on your pattern of play. They'll be sure to figure out you only bet really big when you have a good hand so they'll fold immediately.
You might win the hand, sure, though you won't increase your chip stack significantly and that could hurt your overall chances in the tournament. Mix up your betting patters and little to avoid routine habits being signalled to your opponents. Keep them guessing. A skill to be developed for sure. And now perhaps the biggest and easiest newbie tournament poker player mistake. Not knowing when to fold. You will get knocked out of so many tournaments by staying in hands you should really get out of by knowing when you are beaten and folding. For example after the flop you have say three of a kind - your pocket pair of jacks found another jack on the flop. However the flop contained three diamonds which means that one of your opponents could have made a flush and that beats you. But you hang on in there chasing that fourth jack throwing in handfuls of chips and of course that next jack does not show. The odds are very much against you. Your flush holding opponent thanks you for the chip donation and you bit the dust. If you think your hand is beaten then it probably is. Knowing when to fold and having the discipline to do it is possibly the biggest thing for you to learn.
The only way to hone your tournament poker skills and learn to avoid these common mistakes is by playing for real money. The good news is that, particularly if you play your poker online, there are tournaments with very low entry fees and you are never risking more that that entry fee. Though needless to say never, ever play poker with money you cannot afford to lose. Good luck at the tables.