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Top Mistakes Of New Poker Players

By: Chris Holdsworth

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The human brain is a funny thing, and people really can convince themselves of certain things based on the limited information they have at hand. If the result is positive in a game like poker a person might begin to believe that they are highly skilled, extremely lucky, or just a natural at the game.

Or on the flipside, a negative result might drudge up a number of different ideas. Maybe the players they are playing against don't know how to play the game properly and keep lucking out on them, or maybe they themselves are just supremely unlucky. Another popular belief amongst new bad poker players is that the game must be "all luck" and it doesn't matter what cards you play because anything can happen.

As I said, the human brain is a complex and funny thing in that it can allow the ego to create many grand illusions to explain away certain circumstances. Here are some common delusions that new players tend to come up with:

1. I just started playing and have won every time I've played against my friends, therefore I am a natural at the game and am likely already a good player.

2. Based on past good experiences I am already a pretty good player and will therefore move to become a "good" or "great" player in a relatively short period of time. Getting good at this game will be easy because I am a natural. I will not need to work as hard at getting better as my friends will because I can already beat them.

3. Since I have been winning a lot at home games, I should be able to easily transition into playing online / at the casino and make a lot of money quickly.

Typically the new ambitious player will then venture forth into the world of online (or live) poker and is likely to experience one of the following results.

1. Win a lot of money and continue to have delusions of being the grand master pimp daddy of poker.

2. Break even, but feel they are just having a run of bad luck and the next big win is just around the corner.

3. Lose all of their money, but blame the losses on circumstances beyond their control (luck, other bad lucky players, etc.)

Trust me, I've been there. It's easy to think that after a few wins or losses that you are either the best player in the world, or the most unlucky.

The thing about poker is that while it's a really easy game to pick up, it's very difficult to consistently win over long periods of time without some strong fundamental knowledge of the game and good practice.

If you are just getting into poker, or feel that you need improvement, here are some tips to getting yourself back on the right track.

1. Don't just PLAY poker, take the time to STUDY the game. When you first start out to improve your game you should be studying the game at least twice as much as you are playing. If you aren't following this advice then you are only hindering your chances at becoming a winning player and it will take much longer to succeed.

Many people would tell you that in order to succeed you just need to play more. My advice is to play LESS.

Start by playing maybe 50-100 hands per session. Record various interesting scenarios that you find yourself or other players in, either by writing them down or using PokerTracker. Now take the time to really examine the situations and find out the things you are doing right and the things you are doing wrong. Then read and re-read through your best poker books to increase your knowledge of the game.

If you are spending 1 hour at the tables, then spend 2 hours reading your poker books and studying your play.

2. Try to pay close attention to one table. Don't watch TV, don't zone out when you fold preflop (especially if playing live), and don't multitable. This is essential when you are first learning the game, because if you aren't paying close attention to what's going on then you probably aren't thinking about half of the things you should be. Definitely a top mistake, and one that is easily remedied.

3. Understand variance and don't be results oriented. Don't allow your ego to create illusions that you are a really good player if you are winning, or really unlucky if you are losing. If Daniel Negreanu were to sit down at a table of new players he would think nothing of losing money for a long stretch. The reason for this is that he knows that if he plays his fundamentally sound game he will be a winner in the long run.

And that's the golden goose all aspiring players should be chasing - long term success. And I'm not talking about a few hundred hands or even your last 10 sessions. I'm talking about 50,000 - 100,000 hands, or perhaps a whole year or more of playing. Variance can make any player look good or bad in the short term but in the long term the good players will be obviously more successful than the rest, and the bad ones will find themselves out of money.

Variance can play with your mind and convince you of many things about your game. The best thing you can do is keep studying, keep reviewing your play, and keep playing. Have others review your hands, think about the game away from the tables, and post in poker forums and you are sure to find your game improve.

It might not happen overnight, but if you put in the effort your future winning poker player self will thank you.

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Copyright 2006 - Chris Holdsworth, All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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