Here’s a riddle for you: what’s a blog on the internet without any Top 10 Lists? A blog that’s missing one of the critical components of internet writing, that’s what! Fortunately, I have just the thing to rectify the situation. Presenting the first _ items on this Ace’s personal list of the stupidest things that a poker player can possibly do! I’ll be running the gamut of possible mistakes–from specific situations to general methods of play, to mistakes that don’t even have anything to do with anything done with cards or chips–and covering each item in detail, hence the Part 1. Well then…
#10: Disguising AA, KK, QQ
Before I explain how this made this list, I should explain that I feel there are at least a few decent situations where disguising a premium pair by checking, making an ordinary raise, or even sometimes limping is acceptable or even recommended. Most of these are in short-handed situations. Hence, this mistake is placed at the very bottom of the list.
There are two major problems I have with this tactic. The first is simple probability. The probability of a premium pair holding up past even the flop, much less the turn and river, decreases substantially with each additional opponent in the hand beyond the first. And unless someone’s super tight, or they suspect you hit a draw better than they did (a very difficult image to pull off, and completely implausible against uninformed opponents) they’re not bloody likely to fold a hand that can beat QQ.
One of my favorite things to say about poker is this: it doesn’t matter what cards you have. It only matters what cards they think you have. If the other people at the table think you have really good cards, you’re not likely to get to the flop with more than one opponent. Sure, you could not even get to the flop and just pick up blinds and antes, but if you need a big starting hand to be able to win a big pot, you need to take a long hard look at how you’re playing this game. To guard against suckouts, it’s actually best to be honest about having a monster starter, because if you don’t it can very easily become a monstrous loss for you.
My second issue is that by feigning weakness here, you need to continue to feign weakness afterwards as well. If you come out firing after the flop, most of the time you’ll be suspicious and the effect will be almost no better than if you’d gotten people to fold before the flop–and that’s in a best case scenario where you do hold up. Unless someone in the hand has the temperament of a charging bull, not a good strategy. (Of course, if someone there does react to suspicion by calling instead of folding, having such a temperament, then this is another exception like I mentioned and by all means DO come out firing.) But check calling post flop has problems too. You’re relying on other people to do exactly what you want them to–bet–and that is never a good plan no matter how well you can predict your opponents.
Sometimes, you just need to accept that you’re not going to be able to win a big pot with your big hand.
#9: Playing when tired
I shouldn’t have to explain this much. It’s simply common sense. And if the best games and tournaments go on late into the night, get yourself a metaphorical bag of tricks for staying awake and alert, and dip into it at every needed occasion. But again, there are exceptions to this (major tournaments that go on late into the night for multiple days comes to mind) and on top of that, it isn’t easy. It isn’t easy, but it is a very necessary skill that anyone intending to seriously play live, or even in many online tournaments, literally needs to cultivate.