Mistakes You Need to Stop Making When Playing Live Poker

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A male dealer presents a deck of cards at a poker table.
BetMGM Mar 09, 2022, 9:40 AM

Poker tournaments are back with a bang! But before you head out to your venue of choice to play in a tourney, it’s a good idea to hone your skills and improve your game by practicing with online poker. This format is a popular way to get better at poker and is used to study and practice by some of the most exciting up-and-coming professional players.

Before you book a seat at a tournament, read our list of common mistakes often made when playing live poker, and how to avoid them.

Fail to study the game

One of the worst mistakes you can make when playing in the live format is to head off to an event with nothing more than a basic understanding of poker. All the poker greats constantly study the intricacies of the game. One of the most exciting up-and-coming players, Kyna England, has talked about how she plays poker online to keep improving her skills and, when the pandemic hit, she says she kept on competing in online poker tournaments and improving her game.

If you’re just getting started or need to brush up on your skills, stop by the BetMGM online poker school, where you can find all the rules of popular games. From Texas Hold’em poker and Omaha poker variations to Spins and FastForward rules, as well as all the guides, cheat sheets and charts, you’ll find everything you need to play better. You can also get loads of helpful advice, tips and insights from our poker blogs that are constantly updated with new information that will inspire, entertain and undoubtedly make you a more informed player.

Keep in mind that part of working through the mistakes you’re making at the felt while you improve your game, is studying yourself. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, such as how you react under pressure or keeping your poker face when the good times are rolling, will be hugely helpful in almost every decision you make in the game. You’ll also need to understand other aspects of the game, from what variations you’re most suited to playing to managing your bankroll.

Visibly react to cards

As we’ve just mentioned, studying the game while failing to study yourself will hamper your game from start to finish. The best way to go about correcting this mistake is to become more self-aware. While you’re watching your opponents and learning to “read” them more effectively, you want to be doing the same for yourself. Get into the habit of reading your own reactions.

This is particularly important if you started to play poker at an online casino. With no one to see you at your computer screen, you may have slipped into the habit of smiling when you’re dealt a pair of aces or frowning when you miss your draw. Do this in the live format and your reaction will be right there for everyone at the table to see, which will put you at a disadvantage.

A great pro tip to help you stop reacting to your cards is to watch the other players at the table as the flop is dealt and avoid looking at your cards. You not only have a better chance of seeing your opponent’s reactions to their hands, but will also have a moment to pause and steady yourself before looking at your own cards and controlling your reaction.

Go on tilt

On the subject of mastering your emotions as a poker player, you’ll want to avoid the mistake of going “on tilt.” This poker term means that you’ve let your emotions get the better of you. The result is that you won’t play as well as you could if you kept a cool head. Remember, even Phil Hellmuth’s legendary rants are part of a well-thought-out strategy.

There are two ways you can stop making this mistake. You can read up on the mental tips and skills needed to become more in control of your emotions (some players even learn to meditate,) or simply get up and walk away as soon as possible when you feel yourself starting to get angry or frustrated. This will not only make you a better player, it will also help you to be a healthier person.

You won’t fold

Failing to fold to aggressive bets and raises is one of the most common mistakes made by beginner players. Don’t fall into the trap of refusing to fold with a marginal hand because you think an opponent is bluffing. Chances are that if you’re facing a low-stakes player who is playing aggressively, he or she has a winning hand and you should fold.

Even if you have a top two-pair and another player suddenly starts to play aggressively and raises, it could be they’ve made a flush or at least a straight. Go ahead and fold. You’ll have some stretch in your bankroll to play another day.

Focus on outsmarting your opponent

If you’re into the game of poker, you’ve no doubt watched a few professional games. While watching the greats is a good way to get a feel for this online casino game, trying to copy the way they might outsmart or trick an opponent is a mistake. The result can be betting your weak hands and checking and calling other players’ strong hands.

Keep the basics clear in your mind and remember that being the best poker player you possibly can be means making good decision after good decision. So, if chances are you have a strong hand, go ahead and make a value bet. If you don’t, fold.

Choosing the wrong tournaments

Avoid this mistake by carefully selecting live poker tournaments that are right for you. Start by looking at the buy-in and the structure of the event. Don’t be tempted to play above your budget in the hopes that you’ll bring in a big win.

Being a recreational player doesn’t mean you aren’t a serious player who still likes to win. Your reasons for playing poker are more casual and there’s no need to put too much pressure on yourself or your game. Most amateur players are best suited to poker tournaments that have a low fixed buy-in, are fun to play and give them a chance to try out for a solid cash prize.

Practice playing your best online poker at BetMGM

Whether you’re completely new to poker or you want to take your game to the next level, you can play without having to leave the comfort of your home by immersing yourself in live poker games or trying out your strategy in our online poker tournaments. We also have a wide range of other exciting online casino games from blackjack and roulette to the best online slots. All you have to do is register to start working on your mistakes to improve your game!

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.