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Common Beginner Mistakes

Mistake #1: Playing too many hands
When people sit down in a game, they want to play. Often, this means they even will play hands like [[cards Js 4d]]. This is a cardinal mistake. Hopefully, the articles on this site will help improve your starting hand selection.

Mistake #2: Playing above your bankroll
This goes without saying. Sometimes the gambling and money aspect of poker gets to people too much. They become greedy and play in games they cannot afford or games where the competition is simply too stiff.

At first, stick to a consistent, low limit. Learn how to play and beat the game before you play in higher-stakes games.

Mistake #3: Becoming too emotional at the table
Bad beats will happen. Losing sessions will happen. Annoying opponents will happen. Live with it and do not let your emotions sway your judgment at the table.

Mistake #4: Not using pot odds
If your hand needs improvement, the concept of pot odds can help you determine if you should call to see the next card on the board. Few beginning players understand pot odds, and they often call too much. This site has an article about pot odds, as well as a pot odds calculator to help you better understand this concept.

Mistake #5: Using a two-color deck
When most people think of cards, they think of two colors, red and black. The suits are displayed like this:

hihis hihih hihic hihid

Well, I have news for you. Most online poker rooms give you two display choices: the traditional two-color deck and a four-color deck. A four-color deck has a unique color for each suit, like this:

hihis hihih hihic hihid

While this may seem unusual at first, it will make things much easier on you with time.

Believe me, if you use a two-color deck, there is a good chance that, at some point, you will misread your hand. You might think you have a flush when in fact you do not. Using a four-color deck is a simple way to prevent yourself from making stupid mistakes.

Mistake #6: Not following etiquette
This is a mistake that brick-and-mortar beginners make. When you want to make a raise, you should not say, "I call your bet and raise you $X." Your initial action is considered your final action. So if you say, "I call ..." it means you just want to call. If you want to raise, say "raise" and state the amount you want to raise. If you're playing a limit game, a simple "raise" is sufficient since there is only one amount you can raise to.

Mistake #7: Imitating other players
A lot of people learn how to play poker by playing in a fashion similar to other people. They may just imitate others at the table, or they may try to play like a professional they saw on television. This is the wrong way to go about playing poker.

Many people who play poker are simply bad at it. Imitating a poor player means copying a lot of their bad habits. Furthermore, trying to imitate what one saw on television is also a recipe for disaster. What is shown on television is almost always a tournament, and their hands are highly situational. The reasons for the professional's decision probably has little applicability to your own game.

It is important to understand how to make decisions at poker. Succeeding at poker is not done through imitation; rather, it is done through understanding the complexities of the game.

Mistake #8: Superstitions
All gambling involves luck. While luck tends to even itself out over the long run, people naturally focus on the short run and on their fluctuations.

Because gambling involves randomness, people will often blame or chalk up their luck to some random event that coincided with how they fared at a certain gambling session. This may be as innocent as believing in a lucky shirt. However, some people take these superstitions too far. They start to believe that if they constantly move seats or change their socks that they will somehow become the next WSOP winner.

You cannot affect the "luck" factor of gambling. Luck evens itself out over the long run. The only thing you should concern yourself with at the poker table is playing well. If you play very well at poker, you will win over the long run. If you do not play well, you will lose. It's as simple as that.

Mistake #9: Overvaluing Suited Hands
Having a suited hand is a plus. However, you should not play a hand just because it is suited. The first two things to consider about a starting hand are the ranks of the cards and whether the cards are paired. These are by far the most important factors in the value of a hand. After this, you should consider if they are suited or connecting.

A hand like [[cards Ac Kd]] is much, much more valuable than a hand like [[cards 10h 3h]]. [[cards Ac Kd]] is a top starting hand, whereas [[cards 10h 3h]] should be thrown in the muck.

This may sound obvious, but many beginners make the mistake of calling to see the flop with any two suited cards. The probability of flopping a flush or a flush draw with two suited cards is just under 12%. This is fairly low; you need other reasons to play a starting hand besides the fact that your cards are suited.

Next Article: Longhand Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy

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