This is part 4 of a 4 part beginners series on how to effectively play Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. In Part 3 of this series we saw how holding a premium hand does not guarantee you a win. In this final part of the series we’re going to go over some of the most common pitfalls that often plague the beginner texas hold ‘em poker player.
Despite knowing which hands you should play pre-flop and how you should play them once the flop comes some beginner poker players still make some crucial mistakes that end up either costing them their entire chip stack or drastically crippling them.
Pitfall #1 - Moving all-in pre-flop with a premium hand
This is a very common mistake and while most often times it’s committed by a beginner poker player, several pros are also guilty of committing this error.
You’re holding A♥ K♦ in the BB and the SB decided to raise three times the big blind in the early rounds of a tournament. You figure your opponent has a strong hand but he’s still an underdog to your A-K if he calls. So you move all-in, everyone folds to the SB who calls and he shows you
Odds of winning 67.24%
Odds of winning 28.36%
The 4.40% discrepancy is in the unlikely event of a tie. For instance if the flop came 2♦ 3♥ 4♠ and the turn came 5♥ would make both players a straight resulting in a tie.
So in this case you’re slightly higher than 2 to 1 favorite to win the hand.
The flop comes
4♠ 7♠ K♥
Only one more card to dodge
What a heart breaker, you just made a set but your opponent caught the flush on the river. Now you’re out of the tournament 76th out of 80 and you’re going home empty handed.
The point that needs to be stressed here is that regardless of whether you’re a favorite going to the flop it doesn’t mean that your opponent isn’t going to hit his 2% chance of catching the card he needs to beat your pair.
There are some instances in which it is conceivable to move all-in pre-flop with a strong hand like A♥ K♦ which is either when you are on the verge of elimination and you only have enough chips for a few big blinds or when the player against who you would be all-in has less than 20% of your chip stack. In all other circumstances the idea of moving all-in should not enter your mind and instead you should opt to outplay your opponent on the flop.
Pitfall #2 - Checking the flop with the best hand.
Aside from slow playing the absolute best hand, checking with the best hand on the flop is simply asking for trouble.
You’re holding A♠ Q♥ and you simply call the big blind to see the flop.
The flop comes
10♥ 8♠ Q♦
You check, perhaps because you don’t want to scare away your opponent.
He in turn calls you all-in. Now you start to think that you’re A♠ Q♥ is probably trailing either a set or two pairs and you decide to fold. Your opponent smiles at you and flips over Q♣-2♦.
Did your opponent make the right move? Perhaps it was rash to move all-in in an attempted bluff, but you not betting your Q with the A kicker was an even bigger mistake that allowed your opponent to take control of the betting and made you doubt your hand.
This concludes the 4 part series on the beginner’s play of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker. Hopefully by now you feel more confident in your abilities as a poker player and you’ll be ready to crush the low limit cash games and tournaments. Be sure to come back to read the intermediate series on selecting your pre-flop hands which will cover suited and non-suited connectors as well as A-x and K-x hands.