One of the best things about poker, especially at 21st century, is how you can discuss the game. Previously, you only had one or two people who could understand what you were talking about with the game of poker. At 21st century (and with the advent of the internet), the ability to discuss poker has flourished. It’s been especially good for newcomers to the game to be able to tap into the minds of those with some arena experience.
Recently, one of the poker groups I’m involved with posed an excellent question: What are the biggest mistakes a newcomer to the game of poker can make? There was a litany I could have found, but these three are the ones that immediately came to mind. I will present these three errors here and I would be extremely interested in what others might think of these things and what they could add to them.
1. Too fascinated by big pairs
A newcomer to poker knows the basics of the game. They are familiar with the “top 10” hands – pocket aces, pocket kings, AK, pocket queens, and so on. – and, when they get those hands, you can almost see their pulse rate increase. The problem is that these newcomers are too fascinated by these big pocket pairs, and this is probably the biggest of the three mistakes a newcomer to poker can make.
Whether it’s Aces, Kings or Queens, a novice player will think these hands are unbeatable and play them too aggressively. Of course, pre-flop, a higher pocket pair is an 81/19 favorite over a lower pocket pair, but that’s not where the game stops. You must be able to play the board, all five cards that make up the board, and make critical decisions along the way.
Is there a flush draw? A hetero? Does my opponent like to put mine on? What is the probability that my opponent will play a suited connector? These are just a few of the things that must cross a player’s mind whether they are a veteran or new to the game.
2. PAY ATTENTION!
A newcomer to the game will not pay attention to what is happening at the table. They won’t know when they’re supposed to get their blinds out, they won’t know when the action is on them, or they won’t know there’s been a raise in front of them. You should ALWAYS pay attention to the action at the table, whether you are in the hand or not, as this will keep your mind active and keep other players at the table from hating you!
3. Stick with one hand too long
A newcomer to poker will often hold their hands too long and cost themselves more money (or, in tournament poker, more chips). Yes, if you have a flush four (four of the same suit) on the flop, you have a one in three chance (approximately) of making a flush on the river. If you have an open-ended straight draw, you ALSO have about a one in three chance of making your straight.
You have to think how much it will cost to see the bend and the river. This is where it is important to know the odds of making your hand and compare them to the size of the bet your opponent is making. Sometimes you are given the correct odds (real or implied) so you can continue to play in a hand. But there’s one important thing to remember – if you lose a hand two out of three times, you’re not going to stay at that table very long because you’ll be broke. That’s why you need to make these decisions wisely and not stick with it for too long.
What are your suggestions for newcomers to the game of poker? What three mistakes do YOU see poker beginners make?