Have you ever been
in a situation where you were sure of your opponent’s hand? So sure, in fact, that you quickly called an all-in bet
without the least bit of worry that your hand was beaten? Remember how surprised you were when your opponent flipped
over the nuts and busted you out of that tourney or gobbled a monster pot in that ring game? How could you have been
so wrong? And how did you allow yourself to get set up so easily?
With all of the bad beat threads and stories that grace the online poker community nowadays, a casual reader would think
that nobody ever gets outplayed. But recognizing poker mistakes and learning from them is one of the most important concepts to
winning. One of your main goals should always be adapting to the subtleties and evolution of the game; regardless
of whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro.
Everybody makes mistakes… and more than just a few. You can play a hand perfectly, but that’s about it. Perfect poker
does not exist. Players who find it impossible to shake off miscues are the first ones to stray from their own set of
values. But a player who can add yet another lesson to his/her ever-growing repertoire of options gains small amounts of
skill that gradually build into bounds of confidence and inspired play.
The first reaction one should always have when getting outplayed is to look inwards. Ask yourself what led to your line of
thinking and try to isolate specific actions made by your opponent that (may have purposely) misguided you. Being completely
fooled by an opponent not only allows you to pick up a new move, but also can tell you quite a bit about that player’s
When it comes to sitting at a table and competing against players who are actually trying to win, one must be willing to
deviate from cookie-cutter strategies that promote passively playing what I like to call “defenseless poker”. Exploring new
means to increase expectation leads to superior play – but it also creates more opportunities for disaster along the way.
Sooner or later, most poker players are forced to choose either a well-trodden path of lazy comfort or an uncharted path to
improvement. The vast majority of players choose the former.
Playing against someone who’s unwilling to make mistakes or “look bad” is pretty simple for any guy or gal who cares about
such things as paying attention. Many conservative players avoid confrontation at all costs with the aim of not getting outplayed;
but continually get outplayed while they avoid confrontation.
Ego is another obstacle that prevents players from making poker mistakes, but at the same time it provokes bone-headed moments
of a completely different nature. Keep in mind that you cannot make the “correct” misjudgments if you’re not playing to the best
of your ability. Steaming off your chips is certainly something you can learn a few lessons from – but you should strive to
spend money on experience and information rather than entertainment when at the tables.
Self-discovery is a rarity in the game of poker, but you’ll realize it when it happens. One of the most-euphoric moments a poker
player will ever have is sitting in an important game knowing that his/her edge over the competition is enormous. However, the
road to such revelation is riddled with pitfalls and soul-searching events… and it’s never-ending. Persistence is the key.
When you register for any game, ask yourself what measures you’re willing to take in order to outplay your opponents. There are
always going to be situations in which a player should drop off the radar and play a more-methodical game for a while; but that
conclusion should be drawn from your own analysis – not obtained through another player’s “recipe”.
Finally, an improving player has to trust him/herself to make these poker mistakes. Read your opponents to the best of your ability
and follow through with whatever action you decide is appropriate. Take risks when you feel they’re beneficial and enjoy the extra
profit you earn from whipping your opponents’ attempts to defend themselves with their cards. And if you just happen to make a
mistake, don’t beat yourself up too bad over it… the learning curve of poker is pretty high.