Poor Poker Hand Selection

Poker is all about making good decisions and avoiding big mistakes. But matters at the poker table are rarely black and white: there is never one way to play certain situations all the time, and it is impossible to produce a strict guide for all circumstances.

Nevertheless, there are some situations that continually cause difficulties for players of all levels, and avoiding common mistakes can give you a significant advantage over many opponents.

If you understand why you should avoid these situations, you will also learn how to take advantage of your opponents when they get themselves into trouble.

This chapter is all about common mistakes and how to avoid them. They can be extremely costly in a no limit Texas Hold’em cash game.

Poor hand selection

We have spoken at length in the Poker Basics course and this course about the importance of correct pre-flop hand selection. Nevertheless, players still often get themselves in trouble by either over-valuing marginal hands, which turn out to be dominated by an opponent, or getting involved in huge pots with weak hands, which they end up losing.

Let’s take a closer look.

Over-valuing dominated hands

Hands like A10, K9, KJ or A7 may look pretty, but they are not great hands.

Although they may be playable in position and if nobody has raised previously, they are exceptionally vulnerable if an opponent shows strength. As soon as an opponent starts raising, you have to muck them. You don’t want to flop the second best hand, which can often happen with these kinds of holdings.

Playing big pots with weak hands

The second example in the previous hand replayer showed you the importance of always being aware of other players’ stack sizes. If you are all in pre-flop (or on the flop) a positional disadvantage isn’t a problem anymore.

Also high card hands such as an ace with a low kicker, or K10 become more valuable. These kinds of hands often make weak made hands, such as top pair, and they are fine for playing smaller pots.

However, you should rarely play big pots with one pair hands. Remember: big pots are for big hands only, and you need to be disciplined enough to fold hands that are simply not strong enough to withstand a lot of aggression from opponents.