5 Common Beginner Leaks in Low-Limit Poker
Beginner poker players often have numerous leaks that they have to plug before becoming winning players.
Here's a look at some of the most common leaks seen at low-stakes cash games.
1. Predictable Bet Sizing
Beginning players will often have issues with bet sizing. The most common is predictable betting.
If the player is drawing or has a weak hand, he either calls or bets small. Once he hits a monster hand the size of the bet increases drastically.
These players are essentially playing "scared money" poker where they refuse to put in a lot of money unless they have the goods. Experienced players will frequently value bet players with predictable bet sizing or get out of their way.
If you have this leak, a great way to plug it is to set up a standard betting pattern and mix up your betting enough to where your opponents are guessing.
If your opponents are getting out of your way too often when you have the goods, it's time to mix up your betting pattern.
In some loose games you will see a lot of players limp into a pot in the hopes of seeing a cheap flop. Often a player will start raising in hopes to picking up cheap pots.
If you're folding to a lot of these raises you're just donating money to the pot.
With observation you should be able to determine which players are raising because they have the goods and which ones are trying to pick up dead money.
With that said, don't get too liberal with calling these raises. If you're limping in with 7-2 offsuit or similar, go ahead and fold.
3. Playing When Tired
While it sounds cool to be able to play poker for hours on end the reality is that most poker players do not play optimum poker when they are tired.
Fatigue causes you to lose focus and make decisions you would not normally make when you are fully rested.
If you find yourself getting fatigued, leave the game. There will be future games to play and cash games at low stakes are never good enough to continue to play while fatigued.
4. Making Decisions Based on Emotions
A poker player's worst enemy can be his emotions. Often, players will make a decision in a game based on "feelings" and totally ignore the information available.
Keep in mind that we're not just talking about tilting at the table. While tilt causes players to make plays that they normally wouldn't, it's not the only negative emotion.
Some players will make plays or enter into pots because they feel that "they're due" or that a certain hand will hit. Many players become superstitious over a hand and play it because at some point in their poker career they hit a monster.
Let me share my personal example with this one. At the 2006 World Series of Poker $1,500 Limit Hold'em Event, I was dealt 5-3 for twelve hands in a row.
I folded and after the fifth time started folding the hand face up. After that event, I started playing the hand because "surely it will hit." I quit playing it regularly after a couple of months because it was a losing proposition.
When you make a decision in poker, it needs to be based on the information available to you and not on your emotions.
5. Paying off Nits
One of the worst leaks that you can have in cash games is paying off players who you would label as "nits." These are tight players who typically only raise when they have a good hand and only put money in the pot when they believe they are ahead.
Too often, players will be concerned with someone trying to "outplay them" or they overvalue a hand such as top pair against a nitty player.
The common rule with nits is that when they show aggression in cash games, it's time to fold.