Poker Fundamentals – Avoid These Mistakes and Increase Your Long-Term Expected Value in Poker


In poker, as in many other card games, luck plays a significant role. However, skillful players can make the game more favourable for them by taking into account the probability of the cards they are dealt and their opponent’s tendencies and playing style. This allows players to increase their long-term expected value of the game and ultimately win.

While the luck element in poker does not go away entirely, it becomes significantly smaller over time and is dominated by skillful play. As players learn the game and gain experience, they will develop an intuitive feel for things like frequency analysis and EV estimation. As a result, the odds of winning and losing will become much more balanced.

It is common for newer players to get caught up in the thrill of the game and focus too much on bluffing and other tactics. This can lead to poor decision-making and eventually burn out their bankroll. This can be avoided by sticking to the basics of the game and learning how to read the board and opponents. This way, they can make more calculated decisions and not make emotional mistakes that will hurt them.

One of the biggest mistakes that newer players often make is to keep their cards face up, or even just down a little, so that other players can see them. This is a huge mistake and will only serve to give your opponent an advantage over you. The best way to avoid this is to always hold your cards close to your chest, and only look at them when it is absolutely necessary. This is the origin of the phrase, “playing it close to your vest.”

Another mistake that many newer players make is making their bet sizes too big and calling every single street. This can be easily overcome by playing a more balanced game and using some of the basic rules of thumb, such as betting the pot size in relation to the raise size (when raising, you want to bet more if it’s higher than your opponents’ bets).

Lastly, many players are guilty of complaining about their bad luck or rotten cards. This is a huge mistake and will hinder their progress. There is nothing more important than getting over your emotions and learning to appreciate your good fortune, whether it be hitting a two-outer or just avoiding bad beats.

If you can master these fundamentals, then you will be on your way to becoming a good poker player. But don’t be too quick to assume that you’ve mastered the game, and start comparing yourself to professional players. Remember that it takes a lot of practice to get to their level, and you will still struggle with the occasional bad run or two. That’s all part of the game and will only make you more determined to improve. So good luck and happy grinding! You might just find yourself winning some cash! – The author is the co-founder of Replay Poker, a popular online poker room and community.