5 Poker Leaks That Cost You Money at the Tables
Published on January 05, 2018
Drip, drip, drip.
You hear that?
That’s not your leaky bathroom faucet. It’s your poker game leaking and bleeding you dry.
And if you don’t do something about it, not only will these leaks eat at your profit margins, but they’ll be entrenched in your game–making them hard to detect and fix.
Whether you’re a beginner or a career poker player, your gameplay has leaks that prevent you from advancing your game and your career.
If faced with a 3-bet, what should you do?
Fight or flight?
Fold, call, or 4-bet?
And how about balancing your ranges against tough opponents?
If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, then your game is not as strong as you think it is. And you have leaks that are costing you money and keeping you from achieving the levels of greatness you aspire for.
Here are 7 common leaks that affect almost every player, and how to deal with them:
Poker is getting more competitive every day. You either keep up or pay the price of being outsmarted at the tables. There are small leaks here, but they all cost you dearly if you don’t fix them soon.
All three leaks above have one thing in common: you show weakness when you should be projecting strength. You should almost always c-bet after raising pre-flop and take the pot then and there. Checking is passive.
And passive play gets punished mercilessly.
And when you’re bluffing, take it all the way to the river. You’ll win 52% of the times you bet the river.
Your long-term success as a poker player depends largely knowing when to call it a day–or night–at the tables. Some players understand putting in the volume to mean working long hours until they drop. They think they should keep playing in all conditions, hail or snow.
Even when their mind is on the verge of shutting down from exhaustion, depleted energy, or lack of sleep, they keep pushing themselves. Playing when tired, unfocused, or distracted means you’re playing your C-game. That’s when the mistakes pile up and your win rate drops.
There’s no magic solution or one-strategy-fits-all here. You’ll have to find your sweet spot and know when to stop playing or when to take a badly needed break.
Here are a few considerations to help you decide when it’s time to go get some fresh air:
Tilt happens when emotions take control and your mind takes a back seat. Anything less than your A game is considered tilt. You don’t have to angry to be tilted. You can be sad or scared or just distracted.
And it doesn’t have to show for you to be tilt.
There are people who can put on a mask and look calm and collected, even though deep down there’s a storm brewing and their guts are in knots.
If it’s not your brain that’s taking charge of the game, you’re on tilt.
That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as you make a bet and fear that you won’t see that money again?
The player next to you has an annoying voice?
The cards you’ve been getting all night are garbage and you start to wonder if you’ll ever get a decent hand?
The dealer is taking his sweet time?
Someone is getting on your nerves?
These are all signs that you’re not focused and not on top of your game. They’re indications that you’re on tilt.
Tilt can take you from playing your A game to playing your C game in minutes. From there, it’s a downhill slide to losing big hands and making costly mistakes. The only option is to stop playing, end your session, and go do something else. The problem, however, is that you don’t notice the signs of tilt. You’re too caught up in it to know you’re tilting.
That’s why the first step to dealing with tilt is recognizing the symptoms and making an immediate decision to stop playing. If you leave the tables every time you go into a tilt, you’ll save yourself a lot of money. And you’ll get a better handle on your emotions.
But if you’re playing a tournament and cannot leave the table, then tighten your game and wait for it to blow over.
Some players practice yoga, meditation, and deep breathing to help them stay calm during the game. Others find hobbies that require patience–like fishing and gardening–to seek inner peace. Tilt is the number one enemy of a career poker player, so make it your priority to conquer it.
This leak affects career players who are still undecided about whether poker is a full-time job or just a hobby. This is especially true of players who have nothing to show yet for their long hours of grinding. They still feel a knot in their stomach every time someone asks them what they do for a living.
This leak is manifested in the following:
Taking your poker career seriously is crucial to success.
If you want to become the accomplished player you imagine yourself to be in a few years, then you should:
It’s not just the strength of your cards, or lack thereof, that decides the outcome of the hand. The signs you project on the table can be fatal and work against you. Here are some of the tells that indicate your hand is not as strong as you pretend:
Counter those weak signs with the following indicators of strength:
At the beginning of this post, I asked what you would do when facing a 3-bet. Obviously, you can fold, call, or go on the offensive and 4-bet your opponent.
But to know which one is the right course of action depends on many factors–like the strength of your hand, your table image and your opponent’s table image, stack sizes, your position, and the pot odds.
These are all things to consider. The right decision depends on all of them. Failing to account for one or more of these factors will lead to the wrong decision and losing money.
That’s another leak.
Want to improve your game, increase your win rate, and strengthen your poker career?