The biggest mistake that players here make

At every level that I have played here, there are very common mistakes that players make. If you are making these mistakes then you are going to give away your chips. If you don’t know how to take advantage when others make these mistakes then you are not winning as much as you could be. But there is one mistake that I think is the biggest because most players make it almost every single time they are dealt their cards.

That mistake is playing too many hands.

The majority of people here play far too many hands. Way too many. I have played with people who will call every time preflop. I often see people who will play any two suited cards, or any two connected cards, or any hand with an ace in it.

I get it, it’s always more fun to gamble, to play most or all of the hands you’re dealt and see if you make something on the flop. But if you are doing this regularly you are giving away your chips and making it difficult to be a winning player in the long term. And to me, winning is the most fun part of the game.

Why does playing too many hands lose chips?

There are two big problems that will cause your chips to leak away over time if you play too many hands.

Firstly, in Texas hold ‘em you will make a 1 pair or better hand only about 30% of the time. If you miss the flop you are frequently going to have to fold. If you are playing 7-4 offsuit and you do make a pair, how often is that hand going to be the best one by the river? Usually not, so you end up having to fold it and lose the chips you put in, or you bet/call and lose an even bigger pot. Over time, the amount you make from the infrequent times that you do make a big hand like a straight is going to get eaten away by the times you put in some chips preflop and then have to fold.

Secondly, if you are playing too many starting hands then you are going to have frequent kicker problems by the river. For example, if you are starting A-6 offsuit, if you flop a pair of aces you are often going to run into a bigger ace and lose a healthy pot. If instead you fold that A-6 preflop you can avoid giving away those chips.

How do you know if people are making this mistake at your table?

A really easy way to tell is to count how many people are seeing the flop during one orbit of the table. If most flops have 5, 6 or more players in a full ring game, then you can be sure that people are playing far too many hands.

How do you take advantage of people making this mistake?

All you need to do is play fewer starting hands. As a start point, I would recommend only playing pocket pairs (AA-22), suited broadway cards (any two cards the same suit that are 10 or bigger), big unsuited aces (down to A-J offsuit) and suited connectors down to 8-7 suited.

Many players (and probably most here) would consider this a very tight range – this is less than 13% of all the possible starting hands which means that in a full orbit of the table you will be playing only 1 or 2 hands and folding the rest. But if you do this you will find that you are very frequently making the best hand at showdown so when you do enter a pot you’re more likely to win.

Is this strategy guaranteed to make you win every time? Of course not, there’s no such thing in this game. Sometimes you will have AA and lose to somebody’s 7-4 offsuit miracle two pair. But in the long run you will win more chips than you lose by playing this way, and that’s what makes a winning player.

In summary

If a lot of people are seeing the flop, you will often find a lot people getting all the way to showdown. The simple strategy is to try to have the best hand most of the time at showdown, and the best way to do that is to play only the best starting hands. Try it in your next session and let me know what results you get.

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That is good solid advice however I will toss out a couple of exceptions to that strategy:

1- Start of a tourney when blinds are low.

This is the time to take more risk and get in to a hand to try and build up your pot. If you wait to play only great cards by the time you get them the blinds will have eaten away what you would win.

As blinds increase you should take less risk on weak hands but be aware of where that Big Blind is at all times and as it gets closer to you then you may need to take more risk on a good but not great hand to offset the chance of a bad hand on the Big Blind.

2- In Ring play you give yourself away.

If you fold most of your hands and then come out with a big bet most advanced players will just fold knowing you have the nuts and you will get smaller pots.

Yes you will likely win more hands but the pots will be smaller as your opponents will read your strategy and know to just fold when you finally hit that great hand.

So, my suggestion and what I use is to base my play on the table and how much risk I can absorb as to how many hands I play.

For example: If I win a pot I know that I can play approximately so many hands at a certain bet before I eat into my original stack.

As long as I am winning at least enough to cover the blinds and get in a few hands before the next blind then I can afford to take more risk on good but not great hands and as my Poker playing Daddy would say- you can’t win if you ain’t in the hand son!

ADDED: I use similar strategy to know when to get off a ring table and a big mistake I see many players make is not knowing when to get off a table and they end up losing all their winnings and maybe more and I have been guilty of this myself.

When I join a ring table my goal is always to at least double my table buy in. Once I have done that then I can absorb more risk and will play higher bets and good but not great hands and even odd ball hands on occasion as longs as it is not gong to swallow my winnings.

If I lose and get back to my goal of double the buy in then it is time to get off the table and bank my winnings.

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Yeah, you will know that “people” in general are playing too many hands, but not which specific people. Since you will be up against specific players when you enter a pot, you should have a better idea of how many hands they are playing, not how many the table as a whole is playing.

From what positions? With what action in front of you? Against which players or player types? Against what relative stacks?

Playing the way you suggest makes you way too easy to read.

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I don’t agree.

  1. Early in a tournament, you want to increase your stack and there is little incentive to take risks, so it is especially bad to play a wider range. You want to be conservative and try to get paid with good hands rather than squander your stack little by little with a wide range.

  2. In a cash game, if you open a balanced range of hands you will not “give yourself away”. You should always be opening hands that make sense to open, but that doesn’t mean opening just QQ+. That would be very obvious (and players would still call so that they can outflop you and win your whole stack because they know you only open good hands). Opening hands like suited connectors, suited Ax, suited broadways, small pocket pairs, as well as premium hands gives you a range that can have the nuts on all boards without making you look so strong that your opponents will fold.

People on Replay sometimes think I am a maniac bluffer because I open a normal range preflop, while most people here only open really big hands.

The original post is great advice that will help a lot of people here.

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… to anyone paying attention. If you want to win chips the best rule is to avoid playing anyone who is paying attention. :wink:

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I stand by my post and if you wait for a great hand to play at the start of a tourney by the time you get a hand to play you will be eaten up by blinds. I didn’t say play crap though and a good player can play a wider range and use bet strategy to bring in more hands on a fold.

We will have to agree to disagree.

We may just be saying the same thing in different ways. Waiting for a good hand is never the right idea and playing bad hands is never the right idea. Ranges will change throughout a tournament because when stacks get under 50 big blinds, more value should be given to hands that make top pair (Ax and broadways) and less value is given to drawing hands like suited connectors, but you should be opening a reasonable range in all situations in a tournament (though what that exact range is will change based on stacks, number of players at the table, and positions).

Calling a raise out of position with A9o is almost always a bad idea, regardless of situation. But opening A9o can be a good idea when the blinds are worth stealing. It may not be such a good idea early in tournaments when there isn’t much out there to steal because A9 will typically lose big pots and win small ones.

I guess we do kind of disagree, because for the first 4 blind levels, at least on Replay, the blinds are so small that it does not actually affect your stack size much. You can wait for a fairly good range of hands (not just premiums of course) and try to win big pots while not taking chances with marginal holdings because the blinds are not worth stealing.

Now we are seeing eye to eye. This is what I was saying but maybe not in the clearest way as I was relating it to the overall strategy in the OP.

As I said the OP is a good solid strategy but there are exceptions when I will widen my range to try and build up a stack early in a tourney early BUT I offset that with betting strategy and once you get past that window then the OP strategy is solid.

ADDED: As you get into the really big blinds I also may change strategy and will take more risk and widen my range as the BB gets closer if my stack is getting low. I will look for a vulnerable player and use bet strategy to get a fold pre or post flop.

It is always hard to say any specific strategy is a good overall strategy because it depends on many variables and how good you are at reading the table and your stack and opponents stack.

I was just throwing in some of those exceptions when that OP overall strategy may not be best.

Very true. In the first orbit though you are not going to get a great sense of how each player individually is playing. Over time you are going to get a better read and make player-specific adjustments.

If most people are playing most pots, you can make a quick table level read that says that most of those 4 or 5 other people in the pot with you are playing something weak.

Honestly though, the advice to play tight is generally going to be good against most tables, especially here.

Thank you, these are good things to clarify. I would say this is general advice as a start point for ring games with a standard stack (~100BB) until you have a player- or table-specific read that tells you to do something else.

I would also say this is general advice for someone who is currently usually starting hands like J-4 suited or A-3 offsuit. If you are playing these hands frequently from most positions then likely you have other issues in your game too, and playing these hands is going to magnify those other issues.

In practice of course as you take these factors into account you are going to want to play more loosely from late position or the blinds, or if you’re short-handed, but my advice is intended as a solid start point that will not be immediately losing against most opponents. From this start point you can then make adjustments.

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I don’t disagree with this argument, and this is why I recommended including some suited connectors and small pairs. If I open 8-7 suited and you always fold then I am going to be just fine taking down the blinds with my 8-high hand. If you only call my 8-7 with your premium hands then I have live cards that are going to have good equity and great deception value.

Against more advanced players then you are of course right, your opening range needs to change, especially in late position. But this advice is focused on the overwhelming majority of players here who are playing way too loosely right now, against a population of players who are also playing way too loosely.

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I have seen this too. Getting “caught” raising preflop with the weaker end of your range is great for your table image :smile:

Thank you, and I hope so!

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Thanks tacos and after reading your response to SPG I see we are on the same page.

Good article!

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Great content in this thread! Thank you!

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they want to become friends and be part of the new group and wu as well in the process.

You should come to a game to play to always win! Not to become part of a friendly group and everyone greets you with your name!!
Play to win and be your best!

I’m pretty sure all these guys play to win :slightly_smiling_face:

I just play for fun!

It just happens to be that winning is a lot more fun than losing :laughing:

Haha, for sure I am always playing to win. However if you fold most of your hands preflop you will find you have plenty of time to chat and be friendly when you are not in a hand.

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I think a huge mistake I see is what’s called in economics the ‘sunk cost fallacy’ aka ‘throwing good money after bad.’ Once you’ve invested in a hand it’s emotionally harder to let it go than stay in. It takes willpower to fold after a big call especially if folding is probably justified but there’s still a chance. I see players reluctant to give up once committed while staying in isn’t a good idea.

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That depends on who the opponent is and your risk based on stack.

If he had a two way hit as I suspect he did and could absorb a big bet and you have a history of bully betting on pairs I can see that call up to the river.

That is why they call it gambling :wink:

Edit: oops wrong thread but you get what I was referring to.

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