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Common Advanced Mistakes

Mistake #1: Missing Value Bets
Value betting is what seperates a great player from just a good player. Obviously, any person knows to bet when he or she holds the nuts. However, getting maximum value out of marginal hands is much trickier.

Value betting is highly situational and game dependent. For limit hold'em, you should be quite aggressive with betting. Since the bets are so small in relation to the pot, people will often call your value bets with extremely weak hands.

For no-limit hold'em, the situation is much trickier. First, you must get an accurate read on what the other player has. Putting an opponent on his cards is not only useful in determining if you have him beaten, but it is also helpful in determining how much you should bet.

Furthermore, consider what type of player your opponent is. A casual player will tend to call bets that are about as strong as his hand. So if you think a player has a weak hand, make sure the bet is not too large because you want your opponent to call.

However, if your opponent is a strong player, then you must take into account what he or she thinks you have. A casual player only thinks about his own cards, but a strong player is also thinking about your cards!

A strong player has probably put you on a hand. Therefore, you not only want to bet based on the strength of his hand, but you want to bet based on what your opponent thinks you have. For example, if you think your opponent can only beat a bluff, then you should make a bet that would seem like a bluff. This bet may be large or small, depending on the game situation.

Value betting is so situational and complex that it can never truly be taught. It is something that great players learn themselves, and it is what gives them a sizeable portion of their edge against just "good" players.

Mistake #2: Not Paying Attention
This seems like a beginner's mistake, but it is actually quite common among good players. Experienced poker players have played thousands upon thousands of hands and know what to do in almost any situation. Because of this, they sometimes do not pay too much attention to any one game.

Often, they will still win due to their experience. However, failing to paying attention is a negative expected value move. Your situational decision-making skills go down the tubes, and it is much tougher to learn and improve your game if you are playing three games at once, checking your email, and chatting on an instant messaging program all at the same time. Failing to pay close attention will not always turn a winning player into a losing player, but it means that a winning player will not win as much as he or she could.

Mistake #3: Poor Game Selection
As important as game selection is, many good players neglect it. This is because their egos get to them. They think they can beat any game. They sit in the biggest game they can find because they figure this is where they can make the most money.

Simply put, these people need to keep their egos in check. Choose a game that has the highest expected value for you. Keep track of your statistics using a program. Play in the games that you excel at the most, not just the games that are the highest your bankroll can handle. Look for the soft games and pounce on them.

Mistake #4: Playing Too High at Newer Games
Most advanced poker players tend to experiment with different forms of poker. A good limit hold'em player will generally give no-limit hold'em a chance, as well as perhaps pot-limit Omaha. While there is nothing wrong with experimenting a little, advanced players tend to make the major mistake of playing limits at these new games similar to the limit they play at the game they have mastered.

For example, suppose you are a $5-$10 no-limit hold'em player. You are a winning player, even at this fairly high-stakes game. You want to give pot-limit Omaha a chance.

You shouldn't start with the $5-$10 pot-limit Omaha game. This is clearly a mistake, since you do not nearly have the type of edge at this game that you would at the no-limit hold'em game. You need to be cognizant of the fact that you need to work on your skills at this new game. Diving into a new game at a limit similar to your best game is almost a sure-fire recipe of losing because there is a high likelihood that you will not be good enough at first to win at the new game.

Working your way up the limits at a new game is often a good idea. This is how you probably learned the game you play best, so it's generally a good way to learn how to play new games as well.

Mistake #5: Mishandling Free Card Plays
Free card plays are advanced moves that good players sometimes make. These moves are almost always done in late position. One of the most basic examples is raising with a flush draw at the flop in a limit hold'em game. When you do this, you hope your opponent just calls and checks to you on the turn. This way, if you miss the turn, you end up seeing the turn and river cards for just two small bets, instead of one small bet and one large bet.

Knowing when to make a free card play or attempt to re-raise your opponent to break his free card play is highly situational. It is the type of play that frequently even good players mishandle because of improper reads or tactical errors.

Mistake #6: Extended Tilt
Good poker players can generally prevent themselves from going on tilt or limit the damages from a tilt. However, every now and then a good poker player will have such a bad streak that it will break their confidence in themselves. These players will go on an extended tilt where they start playing poorly session after session, and they often almost forget how to play poker well in the first place.

Furthermore, these players will often start to play in tougher, higher-stakes games that they may not have been able to beat even if they were playing at the best of their ability.

In short, some circumstances may set even a good poker player on an extended tilt. While this sort of tilt is rare, it can last for months at a time, draining a good poker player of his bankroll.

Next Article: Intro to 8-Game

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