Top 10 Online Poker Mistakes
All players lose from time to time. Poker is a game of skill but also of luck. You can only make the best plays with the cards you are dealt and hope that the probabilities hold up!
10 Mistakes - Why am I losing money?
Of course you can do a lot to help Lady Luck along and I'm going to tell you the Top Ten Sins of new players online. Avoid these mistakes and your game (and account balance!) should improve noticeably!
1. Playing too many hands. Poker isn't about the hands you play, it's about the hands you fold. You should be playing no more then 1 hand in 3 (1 in 4 if you are playing tight!) over any reasonable length of time. Check your stats after a decent session and see if you are playing too many hands preflop.
2. Calling too often. One sign of a weak player is someone who checks and then calls repeatedly. More often you should be raising or folding.
3. Playing at the wrong stakes. You should comfortably be able to bring 50-100 times the big blind to the table. Hence if 100 dollars is a reasonable stake for you, you should be playing the 50c/$1 or $1/$2 cash tables.
4. Chasing unlikely draws. It is almost never right to chase an inside straight draw or a 3-card flush draw (i.e.: where you require the turn and the river to be of your suit). The odds on these are very high (roughly one in twenty five for the flush draw and one in seven for the inside straight draw).
5. Playing Big-and-Small. A6 is a terrible hand. Repeat this to yourself 10 times before firing up the software. The sooner you eliminate hands like K4, A6, Q7 from your play list the better. They are NEVER going to win you big pots, but over-played they will cost you a small fortune. In a 9 player table, it's all about the kicker.
6. Not betting draws. No player in the world is going to fold to a check. You have to give them a reason to fold. This isn't the same as bluffing, this is called "folding equity" and it is an important concept to grasp. Suppose you have 4 to a flush on the flop. You really have nothing but 1 time in 3 you will hit your flush by the end of the hand. If you bet you might find you win the hand there and then. If not you still have a one in three shot and now you will win a bigger pot. it's important to weight your bets correctly but anywhere from half the pot to all of the pot would be a reasonable bet in general.
7. Playing on a short time frame. You should plan your sessions carefully, far too many players sit down at a cash game with too little stake and too little time. This is a recipe for disaster. If you know you only have 30 minutes you will play more hands and push bad situations more simply because you want action before you head out. The last thing anyone wants to do is spend that 30 minutes correctly folding a cold wave of bad hands. Make sure when you sit down to play you don't put yourself under time pressure.
8. Playing without limit's. You should set a time limit and a cash limit for getting out of the game. So, for example you should say "I'm going to play for no less then 2 hours and no more then 4, cash permitting. I'll leave if I turn my stake of 100 into 300 or if I lose 200." Then stick to them. You can vary the numbers in that example to suit yourself but you should have *some* form of structure to your session.
9. Playing with scared money. "Scared Money" is money you can't afford to lose. You should never ever play like that as it will drastically affect your play whether you know it or not. If you are afraid to lose you will NEVER win.
10. Letting a sucker keep his money. That's a cardinal sin!Hide Article [-]
This is a term I've only recently heard for something I commonly do! There is a style of player who would be scared by his own shadow. Every card that comes down either helps him, or in his mind, helps his opponent. Its like they are scolded children, they flinch at every card because they've been "bad beat" so often they are mentally scarred for life. Here's how you kick ‘em when they're down!
Bluffing the Flush
"Blushing" was described to me as "bluffing the flush". This is a standard tactic in offline card rooms where they are referred to as "scare cards". These are cards that couldn't really have helped the post-flop raiser but you might be able to use to scare him off the hand. You can only pull this trick with decent but not very good players. Bad players are usually too busy pawing their monitor and blowing kisses to their pair of aces to notice that the board has come down 9TJQ with 3 hearts. These guys you can't bluff because they are too naive to scare, they simply haven't considered the danger.
Very good players will either know what you are at or will know that you couldn't have called their post flop bet with a flush draw if it was a big enough bet. In this case, that's the difference between good and bad players, the good ones replay the entire hand in their heads to see if you could have played the way you did with a hand that could now beat them.
So, this play is reserved for good players who can see danger on a board but not so good that they can tell you are trying to use a scare card. Once you are sure you can take him off the hand, wait until a scare card comes and then raise or reraise them. This can be a very very useful weapon in your arsenal. Consider this hand:
There is a preflop raise which you call with JTo (off-suit). The flop comes down 9QA with 2 spades and the raiser bets the pot and conventional wisdom says you should fold as you have an open ended straight draw only. However if you are fairly sure your opponent has and ace, you can be sure he wants to kill the pot odds for any straight/flush draws. Now you shouldn't call because you only have 8 cards going for you... but your opponent doesn't know that! So if an 8 or a king falls you have a straight but if a spade comes you can be fairly sure of pushing him off the hand. So now you have plenty of cards going for you!!
**WARNING** advanced players tend to bet their flush and straight draws as its a good play statistically. You might find yourself representing the very hand he has just made! This isn't a trick you can pull every hand but against the right level of player and at the right time you can certainly use it to make some money!Hide Article [-]
How Could You Call That?
When to make bad calls – by Tom Murphy
I'm going to get a bit mathematical here but don't switch off just yet because if the mere mention of maths gets you running for cover, you are going to have a hard time being a poker player online!
Let's look at a hypothetical scenario: You are on the button, you have 89 of hearts and you raise it from $10 (the big blind) to $30 on a semi-steal. The big blind thinks for a good while and then pushes his short stack in for $60 in total. You have a strong feeling he's on A-high or a small pair, either of which you are behind. Now what do you do?
"How could you call that?!"
Well, I'll call every time, I won't be terrifically happy about it but mathematically its the right play.
Now, before I get mail from everyone saying "how can you put more money in the pot when you KNOW you are behind" consider this:
AK o/s v 89 hearts is about 60:40. That is, AK will win 60% of the time and 89h will win 40% of the time. Well Hurrah for 89h but what does that mean for our hand above?
To answer that we have to pretend to play the hand 200 times. 100 times we'll call the extra $30 and 100 times we'll pretend we didn't. Then we see which approach is best over time.
The 100 times we don't call is easy to work out. 100 times we lose $30 and lick our wounds. Net Loss: $3000, ouch!
The 100 times we call we will lose 60 times and win 40 times. The 60 times we lose, we lose 60 x $60 = $3,600 loss. But the 40 times we win, we win 40 x $125 ($125 is the pot: both players have paid $60 and the small blind of $5). That's $5000.
So hang on a second, by calling 100 times we win $5000 and lose $3,600.... that's a net PROFIT of $1,400 when we call the reraise!
So, if we fold all the time we lose $3,000 and if we call all the time we *make* $1,400. That's a swing of $4,400!!
If he turns over a small pair, we are in even better shape with odds of roughly 50:50 (in fact, 89h is slightly ahead of 22!). The only bogey hands we might see are 10,10 or better, or something like A9 (which is still just about break-even when you call).
That's how you can call with cards you know are behind, but you need to know your odds and probabilities to do it and you need a strong read on your opponent too so that you aren't walking into the pocket rockets!!Hide Article [-]
When stack size affects your decisions – by Tom Murphy
Most players understand basic odds. If you are in the big blind and the blinds are 3000/6000 and the small blind goes all-in for a total of 7000... it doesn't matter what you are holding, you simply have to call. You are getting 13,000 back for your 1,000 extra. In poker parlance, you are being laid 13:1 pot odds and even if your opponent has AK, you are only 3:1 behind him in terms of winning the hand. I wrote an article recently on this very topic called "How could you call that?!".
Implied odds. Warning! May contain traces of maths!
When stack size affects your decisions by Tom Murphy
Implied odds are subtly different. Have you ever played offline where one player asked another how many chips they had left ? Not, how many chips they had bet but how many they kept in reserve. Ever wondered exactly why they might ask that? Well, one obvious reason is to find out if they have more than you or not, ie can they put you out of the tournament or bring that sort of pressure to bear. But another reason is to find out how much you could win if you do manage to hit your card and clean your opponent out!
Lets look at an example (this is the science bit, concentrate!):
You have KQ of clubs. The board reads 789A with 2 clubs including the ace. The pot is 10,000 and your opponent goes all in for 4,000. You put him on a straight or a strong ace. Either way he has you beaten. Now, what are the odds of filling a flush with one card to come? There are 46 cards you cant see, and 9 of them are clubs so the odds are 9:46 which is just shy of 1-in-5. So, it looks like an easy fold.... You are getting 14,000 back for 4000 stake. If you play this hand 5 times, 4 times you'll lose 4,000 (which totals to -16,000) and once you'll profit 14,000, giving a net loss of 2000 over 5 hands. So, its close but it's a losing bet and if you take it every time you find yourself in that situation, you will theoretically lose 2000 every 5 times you do it (or a net loss of 400 every time you call.)
So where do implied odds come in? Well, let's replay that example but let's give your opponent 24,000 in chips when he puts in his 4,000 bet. If you feel your opponent will bet or call for a chunk of his chips even if a club comes , then you should call. Let's say that he'll call or bet up to 6,000 even if the river comes up clubs. So, 4 times you'll call 4,000 and lose... you drop the hand as you are clearly behind and shouldn't put another chip in the pot. But the one time you DO hit a club you profit the 14,000 PLUS the 6,000 you figure he'll pay you off. That's a gross profit of 20,000 making the overall play profitable long term (4000 every 5 times you play it or an average profit of 800 a time).
I'm terrifically discombobulated Ted!! What the hell does all that mean? How in God's name can the same call be wrong with short stacks and right when the stacks are large? Those chips weren't even in the pot so how could they affect the odds??
The simple fact is that once that river card comes down you know exactly where you are. You either have a powerful hand or a load of muck. In the cases where you have muck, you drop it, costing you nothing more. But the occasions you hit you your opponent may not realise he's losing and might call your bet on the river. Particularly if he doesn't understand implied odds and may well think you couldn't possibly have a flush draw because the pot-odds wouldn't support the call!
Oh what a tangled web we weave!!Hide Article [-]
A Cure for the Tilts – by Tom Murphy
We've all gone on tilt at some stage. Some people may not have even recognised it but it happens to just about every player at some stage or other. The trick is early diagnosis and quick action.
Online the tilts can hit hard, you have few emotional outlets, the games zoom by and you don't have the interaction with your fellow players that you have offline that might let you blow off steam. Online, no one can hear you scream!
So what do you do when some baboon nails his inside straight on the river? Smash the monitor? Shout at the kids? No, these things won't help. In fact probably the best thing you can do is the one thing you don't feel like doing and that's to stop playing poker. If you are susceptible to the tilts, then you should take a break, get a can of soft drink, hug your husband or wife or kids, realise its just a game of cards and that such things are inevitable. Honestly the best solution to the tilts is a great big hug!
I played with Chris "Jesus" Ferguson after the WPC in a €1000 freeze out of No Limit Hold'em. Now, this guy has 9 WSOP bracelets and is, for my money, one of the best all round players in the world at any card game. During the evening he took a horrific beat for a chunk of his stack. This beat is bad, its runner-runner territory! Chris looks utterly and completely unfazed, taps the table and mucks his cards. I was amazed, I asked him how he could do that, I mean it was a dreadful call by his opponent who was drawing nearly dead and his answer was instructive "I play up to 10 hours a day sometimes, if you do that for as long as I've been doing it you get beat like that every other day. It's no biggie."
Mental discipline is important in this game, and shaking off bad beats is a big part of that. Online you see 90 hands an hour on average. A runner-runner inside straight draw (one of the worst outdraws I can think of) is only about 67-to-1 against. How long do you think you'd have to play to see that happen? Not that long! You need to internalise that and be able to see the bigger picture when you get outdrawn. Aces will lose to Kings 1 time in 5!
Keep an objective view point on things. There are situations you can control and situations that are out of your control. You can't control the cards you get, but you can control your reaction to them. Often repeat folding until you hit something good can be a great antidote to being on tilt.
Another good cure is to sit down at one of our freeroll tournaments or go into one of the low stakes games and have some fun, goof around with 7,2o, call for draws that would shock the theorists. Do things you wouldn't EVER do in a "proper" game and have some fun . You might remember why you love this game in the first place.
But trust me on the hug...Hide Article [-]
Maximising your profit in cash games
How to win in the long run - by Mike Lacey
As Tom Murphy likes to say before some of his articles, ‘Warning this may contain traces of maths!’ But don’t worry it’s not that complicated.
The object of a cash game is slightly different to a tournament in that unless you are playing with the last of your bankroll, survival is not something you are thinking about. It is all about maximising the profits when you have the best hand.
Lets look at a hand that crops up quite often in both cash games and tournaments. You have made a raise pre-flop with AK and get one caller. You have position and the flop comes A 8 9 with two cards of the same suit. Your opponent has checked to you. This makes you confident that you have the best hand at the moment. As in a tournament you cannot give him a free card to make a possible draw so you have to bet.
In a tournament you will usually bet the size of the pot here as a good player will not call for a draw unless they are getting over 2:1 for their money. The smaller the bet you make the better odds they are getting. In a cash game, where it is not going to break them a lot of players will call here if you bet the pot. There is often a mentality that they are almost getting the odds to call and therefore they do. In fact most people think that 2:1 is all they need to call for a flush draw or an open ended straight.
Let’s have a quick look at the real odds. Say for instance they have J10 suited but not the suits on the board. All they have realistically is the straight draw. The pot size is $10 before you bet and you bet the pot so they are calling $10 to win $30. They are getting 2:1 for their money.
Over 1000 hands they will win 342 times and you will win 658, there are no possible ties.
Overall they win $30 * 342 = $10,260 and you $30 * 658 = $19740.
You are both committing $10,000 to win these amounts so you can see you have a huge edge here + $9740. Your opponent is barely making enough at + $260 to cover the rake, in fact he is probably losing.
Now an opponent who is going to call with these odds will still most likely call with slightly worse odds, in fact getting as little as 1.5:1 is enough for this type of player to call (of course there are some that will call for all their chips!). To give odds of 1.5:1 then you must bet $13 in this situation. Your calling station will not see that the extra $3 is costing him $3000 over 1000 hands but your bankroll with love the extra $3000!
This extra money also makes up for the times his J10 is of the suits on the board and he is a 56% favourite, and also the times you have come up against a set of 8’s or 9’s. Of course some people will call a raise with A8 or A9 and get lucky against you, so take my advice and when you have a loose caller increase your bet slightly to adjust for this.
If your opponent has the flush draw only here then it is even more likely he will call the extra $3 but he will still only win 390/1000 hands and end up losing over all.Hide Article [-]
How to avoid becoming an Action Junkie – By Tom Murphy
Now I'm not talking about some Christian Brother or Sergeant Major with a black strap here (though some players need a good wallop every time they go to call with K4!). Discipline in poker is paramount; poker is not an extreme sport despite what the TV might want you to think and its more about the hands you throw away then the hands you play. Any tournament you enter, any cash game you sit down at should be a mental commitment that you are going to sit there for 2-3 hours, primarily folding hands. If you are looking for an instant buzz take up rock climbing or snowboarding, poker can be a rush, an adrenalin hit but it can also be a long slow patient game.
Online poker has a few advantages over live poker and one of them is that you can do other things while you play. It’s not something I personally like to do, I prefer to watch the patterns of my opponents' play and betting, take notes on players and in a tournament take note of chip standing and remaining players. However many players complain that they did something stupid and costly simply because they hit a run of cold cards and got bored!
So what can you do to entertain yourself to avoid the "ah sure I haven’t played a hand in a while" trap? Playing music is a good idea, something relaxing would be my recommendation, and something you enjoy listening to will help pass the time between hands. Read the web, check your email, play a second table to double the number of times you are in the hand. Again I would stress that observing your opponents is the best use of your time but if you find you simply can’t concentrate on poker for that length of time then consider other distractions.
One mental discipline technique I use is to reward myself for good folds. A good fold is often worth as much as a pot won. It’s hard to sit there and wait for a hand and finally when you get AJ you end up facing a raise and a reraise. Instead of tilting and going all in, take a deep breath and let the hand go. Rather then railing against the gods of poker you should congratulate yourself on a disciplined fold. Give yourself a mental pat on the back, a gold star and realise that any mug can lose all his chips; it takes a player to know when to fold 'em.
Far too many players weaned themselves on Late Night Poker and watched some of the best players in the business bluff and raise in positions that would make Gus Hansen blush. I played in a tournament recently with Padraig Parkinson, the winner of one series, and for almost the first hour he didn’t so much as raise a hand. Talking to him about Late Night Poker he told me that the structure tended to make it a crapshoot and that the TV editors cut out most of the hands where someone raised and no one called. It’s understandable but it misrepresents poker to an entire generation who think that every hand is an action hand. All things come to those who wait, aces might be waiting for you next hand...Hide Article [-]
Controlling your attitude – by Tom Murphy
Every player goes through a run of cold cards and bad luck. Simon Trumper documented one such run once, losing 18 coin-flips (that is, times when he's 50-50 with another player, all in) in a row!
I've just broken a month's long run of foul cards and bad beats where I won absolutely nothing and couldn't even draw out on someone. No, it seems when it comes to ME being the underdog, the cards behave themselves!
Every player goes through this, but it never feels easy. Poker players, despite it being an individual's game, are very social. The best players also tend to be neurotic and often given to manic depression. The highs are very high and the lows are cavernous. One review of Stu Ungar's life shows that and he was probably the greatest card player of all time!
Ask yourself why when two players meet they inevitably tell BAD beat stories, not about hands where they won? In a game where any weakness shown can be fatal, why tell a story about how you lost a big pot? In a game where image means a lot, why tell everyone you are a loser?
Next time someone tells you a bad beat story, instead of zoning out, listen to them and think about this: Is this person telling me this story to regale me with tales of highly improbable events or is it to seek confirmation that they did nothing wrong? Almost certainly it's the latter.
I'll let you in on a secret...every player at some stage in their career feels like a total fraud. They feel like any wins they've had to date have been luck and their current losing streak is what they deserve. They feel like frauds and need to quit before they fool themselves any further.
You need to step back and realise you can't win them all, you can't even win most of them! Look at your form, look at how you are playing, correct any mistakes you can see and then realise that even the best in the world can't force a win with 72o.
"This too shall pass..."Hide Article [-]
Coping With Loss and Bad Beats
Deal with it – by Jonny Downes
One major problem that every poker player encounters is the ability to cope with financial loss. Ultimately it can lead to the decimation of your bankroll, loss of confidence in your game and downright dejection. Throughout this article I will analyse how this occurs and how you can be better prepared to recognize this trend and deal with the resulting issues.
Take this scenario:
You have just opened an account with paddypowerpoker.com and deposited €200. With some experience under your belt you feel confident that you will be able to build solidly on this initial deposit. Your target is to move up in stakes slowly but surely.
Two weeks pass and you have successfully quadrupled your deposit. Confidence has quadrupled along with your initial deposit and you begin feeling you can't put a foot wrong. You get involved in a pot with a player, your chip stacks virtually even. Pocket A's are dealt to you on the button you duly follow with the perfunctory 3x raise.
The flop comes A Q 4 rainbow (all different suits) and your opponent, much to your surprise starts betting into you. In your mind you begin narrowing down the range of possible hands he could be holding; Ax, QQ, 44 or a bluff. You re-raise and your opponent moves all in. You call, he shows AJ off suit. At this point you are counting your post hand stack, but the turn brings a 10 and the river a horrid K, giving him the straight!
Devastated and disgusted with the outcome, but certain that in the long run you will take down these situational pots, you buy back in. Twenty hands later you are dealt KK in early position. Once again you push a good healthy raise. Once again the same player who you had previously clashed with re-raises. This time however it's pre-flop and all-in. You call, he shows QQ and what does the river bring? Another Queen!
Reeling from the outcome of two key hands you refresh your account to check your balance. In the space of thirty minutes you have lost two buyins not to mention your potential winnings. You decide to take a timeout.
Inevitably you begin pondering over the hands. Could you have played them differently? This is frustrating as the answer is no, which only serves to irritate you further. Determined to gain back your loss you decide to sit back down at the table. This is the key turning point for many poker players, it can lead to a spiral of financial loss wrought from panic and desperation.
Where did it all go wrong?
Think back to when you made your initial deposit, you had no thoughts of recouping loss and were simply playing from a deposit, with a view to steadily building your bankroll. Now you have returned to the table with a view to win back loss. These are two completely different frames of mind. Suddenly you find yourself calling all in bets with marginal hands pre-flop, running into AA and catching no help on the board. Previously you would have folded hands like JJ to an all-in bet. You are in such a hurry to regain money that you have lost sight of your goals. You are no longer playing to win you are playing to re-coup your losses.
This situation can escalate quickly. Many players will move up in stakes and outside of their set bankroll limits believing they can quickly gain back their losses. Ultimately this leads to tilt, particularly where loss occurs at stakes too high for your skill level. Soon you may find yourself making another deposit having lost your entire bankroll to tilt. This was not part of the plan.
"Chasing" is a well known term amongst compulsive gamblers and this is a true example. Many players become addicted to the chase and the highs and lows that accompany it. If you find yourself chasing; Stop! Think very carefully this can lead to severe financial loss.
Avoiding the fiscal abyss
One key aspect in the making of a very good poker player is the ability shrug off bad beats and the financial loss attached. Professional player Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson is a perfect example. He can take any bad beat in his stride and continue playing his game unaffected. The majority of players tend to get very emotional over bad beats, which leads to anger and frustration. Playing poker when you are angry or frustrated is certain death as your ability to exercise control is compromised. Bad beats are a part of poker and the sooner you can accept them and move on without any emotional baggage the sooner you will become a better player for it.
Buy a punching bag if you must! Find some way of relieving the tension and do not return to the tables in an adverse state of mind. Dealing with the financial loss is related but is a separate issue. When you lose, it is imperative that you accept your loss and move on. Do not consider regaining your loss. You are a solid poker player and you know that you can make money at the tables without any great difficulty, providing you are emotionally stable. That is the key to consistently making money. Being in the correct frame of mind and consistently making solid and correct decisions. As Mike Caro says 'You get paid to make the correct decisions' if you are emotionally unstable at the table, you will generally not make the correct decisions.
Being a great poker player is not just the ability to calculate pot odds or the ability to read an opponent. You must exercise control emotionally and financially at all times, you must learn to deal with bad-beats and loss. Keep your head and you will keep your bankroll moving in the right direction.
I wish you the best of luck!
Jonny DownesHide Article [-]