Top 10 Worst Mistakes a Poker Player Can Make: Part 4October 15th, 2016 by Justin Buchanan
We’re getting close to the end now. In this part, I’ll be covering items #4 and #3 on my personal Top Ten Worst Mistakes a Poker Player Can Make list. As the penultimate stage, you can bet that things are going to get a lot more serious now. In the case of #3 in particular, I feel I should warn you that I’m going to get particularly, well…
#4: Continually checking a hand down
This one is going to be a little complicated to explain. It’s really sort of like a two parter. On the one hand, in most situations it’s an incredibly stupid thing to do. On the other, in one certain situation, it’s absolutely ridiculously stupid NOT to do it, and furthermore, it’s downright rude. I can’t really talk about this without covering both in detail.
The reason it’s incredibly stupid in most situations is the same as I’ve talked about before in this list: information. There are two types of data that you literally need in order to get a good read on your opponents–actions and reactions. Without those, sure you can maybe spot your opponents’ tells, but good freaking luck figuring out what they actually mean! And when you’re checking a hand down, it means your opponent in the hand is too. Spotted the problem yet? Neither of you are acting, nor are you reacting. You’re just…there, not learning anything useful at all. Most times, it’s worth possibly wasting a few chips if you can gain insight into your current opponent’s playstyle.
However, much like the previous items in this list, there is an exception to this rule. Unlike those previous items, it is an absolutely critical one. Say someone is very short stacked in a tournament–say they move in with 2 BB or so when you have 30 or more. You call–and someone else calls. In this situation, unless someone has a hand that could be assumed to beat the all in player unless they got idiotically lucky, usually it’d have to be at LEAST 3 of a kind, if one of you is betting, that person is bad and they should feel bad. The reason for this is that it can lead to a nightmare scenario where the other player folds to the bet–and it turns out THEY would have beaten the all in player, but the bettor doesn’t. This is even worse close to or after a money bubble. If you do this live and it happens, expect dirty looks. From the entire rest of the table.
#3: Acting against your own read
One of the most–possibly the most–important aspects of a poker player’s skills is the ability to get a “read” on their opponents. To be able to think things like, okay, this guy did THIS, and before the flop he did THAT, so his hand is probably something like THIS. Some people advocate focusing on playing your own cards rather than worrying about the other people’s. Those are the very people who can’t spot the sucker at the table because they’re it.
By all means, don’t act on your reads while you’re still learning how to read. That sort of trial and error is an important part of the process of becoming a good poker player. But when you get to the point where you believe you know how to read poker situations, that skill is worthless if you don’t act like it. Self-doubt destroys people in poker, it destroys people in virtually every sport it’s possible to attempt to play. It destroys love lives or any chance people might have at having them. It destroys chances at better careers, better lives in general! It destroys potential. And destroying potential is a horrible thing. Often, I enjoy using the fact that this blog isn’t meant to be taken completely seriously as a shield against the questioning of the advice and tips I give. But as I’m also fond of stating, there are exceptions to every rule. Even if you’ve taken nothing else I’ve ever said in this blog seriously, please, please, please take this: fight against self-doubt with everything you have. It’s no way to play poker. It’s no way to live.