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Top 10 live poker mistakes

23 Mar 2020

By Tadas Peckaitis
Many poker movies are showing how exciting poker can be and glorifying this game. However, not everything is that simple in real life, and you should know how to avoid the most common mistakes in a live setting.

Even if you are not new to the game, you can quickly get carried away with all the action at the tables and accidentally make something you regret later on. To help you avoid such situations, I made a list of top 10 things you should avoid when playing live.

Hopefully, someday soon, the world’s poker rooms will reopen, and the below tips will help as you ease back into the game.

10. Wasting everyone’s time
The action goes very fast in online, which allows playing more hands in the same time frame compared to live games. If that is not enough, it is quite obvious that you will not be able to play multiple tables at once in a live setting, so the amount of hands you are going to see per hour diminishes greatly.

Always try to act in a timely manner.

Always try to act in a timely manner. (photo by Flickr)

So, always try to act in a timely manner. It does not mean that you should not think about your hand or consider different options when you have a hard decision, but you definitely should not waste time when you already know you will be folding and in other straight forward spots.

When you have a clear decision, just make it and move to another hand.

9. Drinking too much
If you not a regular player and came to have some fun, getting a drink is not a problem, but this should not be something you regularly do at the table.

First and foremost, despite what you think, you will be making worse decisions when drinking, and that will end up costing you money in the long run.

Also, if you take it too far, you can ruin the game for everyone else by misbehaving, and you can find plenty of such stories on the two-plus-two NVG forum.

All things considered, I do not see any positive side of drinking while playing, so better avoid it.

8. Overplaying weak hands
Live poker can quickly become a bit boring if you are on a cold run of cards and have to sit for hours just folding your hands. This is probably the reason why many amateur players make the costly mistake of playing too many hands and even overplaying medium strength holdings.

Playing just for the sake of playing is a bad idea at the poker table and if you want to have good results. Patience should become your friend because you will naturally face times when you are not getting anything playable and need to make disciplined lay downs without throwing away your money.

7. Acting out of turn
Acting out of turn could be a simple mistake or a well-planned angle shooting move. Some players like to take advantage of this play to see how their opponent reacts, but this can quickly backfire.

First of all, in many casinos, your action will stand, and another player will be able to take advantage of your move. For example, if someone sits with a strong hand and you declare a bet out of turn, he can check, and you will be forced to bet by the dealer, and then he can raise your bet, essentially winning more money than he would otherwise.

Of course, this could also happen by accident, but if you carefully follow the action, you will be able to avoid this mistake.

6. Showing your emotions and tilting
I did an interview with poker pro Alex Millar, and he named emotional decisions and the inability to handle tilting as one of the biggest problems players can face.

The second you start making your decisions based on your emotions, you forget the math part of the game and start playing sub-optimally, to say the least. If you are trying to chase a player who just won a huge pot from you to take back your money back, all you doing is reducing your actual chance of winning.

So, when you feel emotional influence or even catch yourself tilting, just take a break or quit the game at all, and you will save a lot of money in the long run.

5. Talking when in the hand
Inexperienced players cause themselves many problems when talking in the middle of the hand. We can talk a lot about verbal tells and stuff like that, but to avoid any kind of problems and prevent giving away the strength of your hands, simply don’t talk while playing.

Even if you are not playing, it is considered bad poker etiquette, and other players can quickly get mad if you continually interrupt their thought process, so better wait until the hand is over and only then share your thoughts.

4. Rushing when making important decisions
You should not rush when making decisions. Of course, thinking if you want to open 5-4 off suit from under the gun is not one of those decisions, and you should be fairly quick to make it and not waste time.

However, if you are in a tough spot and need to consider your opponent’s range and actions, take all the time you need.

Many players quickly understand their mistake after the hand is over, and a lot of the time this happens because they do not think through their decision before making a final verdict. So instead of rushing for whatever reason, consider your options, and you will surely have more success in the long run.

3. Getting distracted from the action
It is very annoying when someone is constantly distracted from the game, and everyone has to wait for that player to catch up with the action. I highly recommend not being one of these guys.

You should not be watching movies, constantly browsing your phone, or doing anything else that distracts you.

Not only will you annoy other players, but you will miss a lot of valuable information that can help you make better decisions.

2. Using random bet sizing
It is not as easy to count the pot size and choose proper bets when you play in a live setting. You do not see the number listed next to the pot or your opponent's stack as playing online, and that can create problems if you are not careful.

I have seen many players make very tiny bets or insane over-bets compared to the pot, and this is a sure way to lose a lot of value.

So when you are playing in a casino, make sure to monitor all the action and always know how much is in the middle so that you could make educated decisions.

1. Giving away valuable information
The number one thing that you should avoid in live games is giving away valuable information.

The number one thing that you should avoid in live games is giving away valuable information. (photo by Flickr)

The number one thing that you should avoid in live games is giving away valuable information about the strength of your hand.

Firstly, you should not be looking at your hand pre-flop when it is not your turn to act, so wait until everyone makes their decision and only then see what you have.

Also, try to avoid common tells like staring at the board, not showing any interest in the pot, or glancing at your chips before making a bet. All of this can give away information to your opponents.
Instead, be consistent with your actions, and you will instantly become a tougher player to play.
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