“’Play to Win!’ What a ridiculous quote! I always play to win! I certainly don’t play to lose!” Of course, you don’t play to lose, but do you always play to win? Too many players play “not to lose”, rather than playing to win. The old saying, “Scared money never wins”, applies to players who are too inexperienced, too timid, or too reckless to recognize all the times when the holes in their game leave money on the table that should have been theirs.
#5 “Fancy Play Syndrome”
With the popularity of televised
poker, millions of viewers have seen players win millions of dollars while
making bets, raises and re-raises with hands even the biggest online poker donkey
wouldn’t play. The viewers then try these big bluffs and outrageous plays as a
means of intimidating the table with their superior skill, rather than playing
a straightforward, winning game. Poker author and legendary player Mike Caro
(“The Mad Genius of Poker”) calls this “Fancy Play Syndrome”.
#4 Misreading Opponents
Is that little mouse in Seat 6
always folding to your preflop raises because he’s a doormat, or is he waiting
to pounce like the jungle cat he truly is? Is the maniac in Seat 9 raising with
every deal because he has the goods, or is throwing his money away? The ability
to gain an accurate read on an opponent requires one trait that many online
players lack: patience. You must watch an opponent as they navigate through a
wide variety of scenarios, so don’t expect to “get a read” on someone after
just a few hands.
#3 Disregarding Odds
The previous article in this
series discussed pot odds and implied odds. Many inexperienced players use
“implied odds” as an excuse when overcalling. Calls based on implied odds are
only useful if you can either increase your stack by a substantial amount
(double up) or if you can cripple or eliminate an opponent.
#2 Failing to Bet for Value
The principle behind value
betting is simple: if you want to win a big pot, you and your opponent have to
build a big pot. When inexperienced players get a strong or nut hand, they make
one of two mistakes.
check, hoping the opponent bets, and then call as a way of showing
make a big bet to “protect their hand” and chase the opponent away.
Both of these options leave money
on the table. An opponent can read a value bet as a way for the Hero to
“protect his hand”, but the pot odds are so favorable that he has to call.
Since strong hands don’t come around very often, smart players must win as much
as they can on those rare occasions to make up for the dry spells.
#1 Lack of Selective Aggression
Many players can be aggressive,
some can be selective, but too few know how to be both. Players who understand
when to press the issue and when to fall back will succeed much more than any
“mouse” or “maniac”.