SEVEN REASONS YOU’RE (PROBABLY) LOSING HANDS AT THE POKER TABLE
Poker is one of the most challenging casino games to play, not because the rules are overly complex, but because there are numerous factors influencing the outcome (and the bad beats can be genuinely soul crushing). Even if you play the hand perfectly, you can still lose; unfortunately, that's the bittersweet beauty of the game. However, if you find yourself losing an unusually high number of hands regularly, such as every second one you play, there might be other factors involved. Here are seven reasons you’re (probably) losing hands at the poker tables.
1. YOU DON’T KNOW THE RULES
Maybe it sounds silly, but there are a lot of players out there who jump into the game without first learning some of the rules. There is nothing more awkward than watching someone triumphantly flip over a straight at the showdown, only to realize that their opponent’s flush is ranked higher. Poker is simple enough to learn, and there isn’t really an excuse for not knowing the rules and the hand rankings before you sit down at the table, virtual or otherwise. How do you expect to win if you don’t know what card combinations are the best?
2. YOU’RE CHASING LONGSHOT HANDS
The best poker players can tell you the odds of hitting any poker hand by calculating the sum in their heads; you don't necessarily need to learn how to replicate this feat, but you should at the very least know some basic odds. You need to know that the odds of hitting an inside straight draw on the turn are not high and virtually impossible on the river. If you’re constantly chasing long shots without realizing it, this could be a huge factor in your frequent losses.
3. YOU’RE NOT FOLDING WHEN YOU SHOULD
As the old Kenny Rogers song goes, “You've got to know when to hold'em, know when to fold'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” There will come a time, when no matter what you do, your cards can't win. By staying in the hand, all you’re achieving is growing the pot for somebody else to cash up. Learn to recognize these moments, know when you're beaten, and fold. Folding is a concept that every player needs to get familiar with; sometimes, it's better to cut your losses and live to fight another day. This knowledge usually comes with experience and frequent failures at the tables, which is why it can be beneficial to play cheaper games while you are still learning.
4. YOU’RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION
You need to watch the game at all times, from the cards that come out on the flop, turn and river, to the way your opponents bet. All these moments provide crucial details about your opponent’s cards. If there are four pieces of a straight on the board, and somebody starts making large wagers, there is a good chance they might have a straight. Even if you fold, pay attention to all the action as it unfolds (see what we did there?). Good poker players always look for tells and other opportunities to get an edge over their opponents. It may just help you win the next hand if you notice a crucial detail about someone's playstyle.
5. YOU’RE PLAYING ABOVE YOUR SKILL LEVEL
Be honest with yourself and know your skill level. Playing high stakes with pros might be good for your ego and look good on Instagram, but it's terrible for managing your bankroll. You might be able to win a few hands; after all, if you have the cards, you can beat anyone, but your good luck won't last, and top-level poker players will eventually find a way to take your entire stack. Stick with games where the players are on a similar skill level to you, or preferably, lower. Don't get in over your head and get mauled by poker sharks.
6. YOU’RE BETTING POORLY
Overbetting and underbetting are sure-fire ways to lose hands. A weak bet will make every other player in the game call, while a massive bet far larger than the current pot will achieve the same result. Bet appropriately for the situation. If the pot is only 400, and you bet 5000, that would be a massive overbet. If the pot is 400, and you bet 5, that would be a massive underbet. Use the current pot size, the blinds and a bit of common sense as a guide, otherwise nobody will respect your plays, and your opponents will call or re-raise every time.
7. YOU’RE BLUFFING TOO MUCH
When done sparingly, bluffing can be a good way to chip up; when done frequently, it’s a great way to lose your entire stack. You don’t want to get caught bluffing too many times, otherwise, nobody will respect your plays, and everyone will start calling or re-raising you. Becoming predictable is the last thing you want to do, it’s a guaranteed way to lose a lot.