Sucking at poker… sucks. You lose more money than you win, your friends laugh at you for wanting to be Tom Dwan, and your wife seriously questions your sanity when you scream — “ONE TIME” — over and over throughout the day, which is usually followed by the sound of your mouse hitting your screen.
Or maybe that’s just me?
Regardless, losing at poker sucks. What I’ve found from coaching is that there a few common leaks that most struggling players have. I thought I’d share those with you. Following this guide should help you suck a lot less at poker, and in the end, isn’t that we all strive for?
1. You lack basic strategy.
Basic strategy is to bet when you have a hand, and fold when you don’t. No slow playing, no fancy 3-bet float check-raises or anything like that.
You need to play from position, play hands according to players, ranges and playing styles, play draws and setmine based on odds, and more. These fundamentals will make you money in poker.
Doing the opposite just makes poker harder for you.
2. You overplay draws.
To go along with my basic strategy, over playing draws is a big reason why so many people suck at poker. Part of basic poker strategy is having an understanding of poker outs and pot odds. They tell you when it’s profitable to draw to your gutshot straight (which, in most times, it isn’t). If you don’t use odds you’re just gambling.
Only suckers gamble at poker.
3. You play way too many hands.
Truth be told, the problem isn’t so much that you play too many hands, as it is what you do on the flop. Meaning, if you decide to play A4o and hit an A on the flop, you’re not going to fold right?
However, this is where the problem of playing too many hands lie. You obviously made a hand, and it might be good. But it might not be good, too. The only way you’re going to know is to commit some chips and get to showdown. Unfortunately, that often results in you having the second or third best hand aka your hand was dominated.
That’s why you should play fewer hands, and the hands you do play are strong so that you’re unlikely to be dominated at showdown.
4. You always call, but hardly ever raise.
Calling, when you’re the first to enter the pot, is a big leak. There are many reasons why:
- You have no initiative postflop. That makes it hard for you to continuation bet.
- You don’t build a pot with your bigger hands.
- You encourage other players to join the hand, diluting your equity in the pot. In other words, your hand is worth less. Your opponents are more likely to outdraw you.
- You can’t steal the blinds.
There is a time and place for calling, but more often than not, if you’re the first to enter the pot you should be raising. There are more upsides than downsides.
5. You don’t put in any effort into improving.
Obvious. You’re always going to suck at poker if you don’t try to get better.
- Join and participate in forums.
- Review your hand histories.
- Hire a coach.
- Ask friends / peers to sweat you.
- Have someone review your hand histories.
- Read poker books.
- Ask questions.
- Join a poker training site.
There are lots of things you can do to improve. Some of them free. Others are paid. All will help you make more money than you are now by yourself. They will help you not suck.
Not sucking is a good thing.
6. You tilt or react to variance.
Dealing with tilt and variance is hard — even for players who’ve been playing for years.
But what separates those guys from you? They don’t let tilt or variance affect their play.
If you don’t want to suck at poker then you can’t let it bother you either. That means no more whining about bad beats, throwing a temper tantrum when every hand you play loses and no more chucking your mouse at your computer screen. That gets expensive after a while, you know?!
7. You blame the poker sites for cheating.
Going all paranoid and conspiracy theory on whatever poker site you’re playing at is a sure sign that you suck at poker.
All poker sites worth playing at are licensed, regulated and tested for fairness. Why would they try to hustle you out of a few measly cents when they can just sit back and take a portion of everyone’s money — fair and square.
8. You bounce from one game to the next, never really getting good at any of them.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
The key to getting good at anything is to focus. When it comes to poker, learn who the regs are, the strategies for your specific games, when they games fire off the most, how you can exploit certain strategies, situations and so on.
Once you get good at one type of game or variation, then you move on. You’ll find that it’s much easier to pick up new games once you’ve gotten good at one.
9. You don’t manage your bankroll well.
You can’t win money if you have none to play with. Stop blowing your money on blackjack and craps.
10. You do things for no real reason.
Poker is a game of skill. There is no skill in mindlessly clicking buttons, doing something merely to gamble or spite calling your opponents. Don’t check-raise just to check-raise. Check-raise because you think your opponent will fold, or call your all-in thinking you’re weak, but unfortunately showing up with a worse hand. Have a reason for everything you do, and you’ll find that you suck much less at poker.