Common Texas Hold’em Mistakes

It’s a tired cliché, but practice does make perfect—especially when it comes to playing poker. There’s a major learning curve in the game, and like most things in life, you’re bound to make a whole mess of mistakes on the road to perfecting your game. And a lot of those missteps in poker’s most popular game, Texas Hold’em, come on the turn and the river.

RVA065Just learning the basics of poker won’t take you far in the card clubs, casinos or online games. There are several common mistakes players make that can easily be avoided with a little patience and know-how.

One major slip-up players make is calling too many raises on the turn. The biggest problem with calling a raise on the turn is that you have almost committed yourself to calling on the river, too, searching for a hand that pays off big.

If you’re going to call a raise on the turn, make sure you will call the river if your hand does not improve. If the answer is a no, be weary of continuing the hand unless you are confident you are being bullied out of the pot with a bluff by the player raising.

A good gauge is to assume that most players who raise on the turn have at least top pair, and often two pair or better. If you don’t have a strong potential to beat that on the river, then it’s likely a good time to fold.

Once again, however, the type of game you find yourself in, and your opponent’s characteristics, will make a big difference on your turn move. In a tight game, an aggressive opponent will sometimes bluff on the turn with a raise if he’s in a heads-up situation. This is where reading the other players becomes critical. If you find yourself in this situation and have a mediocre pair, you may occasionally bypass the general rule of folding and call the raise.

While calling a raise on the turn too often is a common mistake, just staying in the hand after the turn is a bigger one. Many players who start out with a strong hand of A-K, A-Q or K-Q think they have to hang in, even after an unfavorable turn. That A-K looks great, but if the flop is 3-7-10, the gleam comes off those hole cards.

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If you miss the flop in Hold’em, the odds of you having the best hand at the showdown drop dramatically. It breaks the heart to fold such strong cards as A-K, but if you have no shot at hitting a straight or flush, and it’s obvious your opponents are working with a pair or better, save some money and muck your hand.

The river is the final destination of any hand, but it still has the potential to blow up in your face. The best players in the world reach the river by having what it takes to win. The overwhelming majority of the time you don’t get to the river by bullying and bluffing. You usually have the nuts. And if you don’t, a nervous twitch, different inflection in your voice, a bead of sweat, or inconsistent eye movement may be a tell letting your opponent know that you have a weak hand.

Every card and bet leading up to the river means something, so by the time you get there; a good opponent has a relatively good idea as to what you’re holding. So one of the typical mistakes a player makes on the river is that bet that comes out of left field. It’s a bet that’s totally unexpected, based on how you’ve bet on the flop and turn. This often can be a clear sign of a bluff.

Another bad move on the river is always betting or raising when you think you have the best hand. If , for instance, you have top pair, and read your opponent as missing a flush or straight draw on the river, betting will only force them to fold and you’ll miss out on their bet. Consider checking on the river which may trick your opponent into thinking they can bluff their way out of the situation. If they take the bait, pounce. A good river rule to stick to is only raise or bet when you have better than a 50 percent chance of winning if your heads-up opponent calls.

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