The Pitfalls Of Overplaying Hands in Online Poker

When players first learn to play poker, they often like to see hands go all the way to the river. This is normal as a result of natural curiosity as well as the novice misconception that plays are often bluffs. This can, however, result in some large errors on the part of the beginner, resulting in lost pots that are far larger than the pots the player wins.

The goal of poker is to win money. We do this by folding when we are behind and playing when we are ahead. If we often overplay our mediocre hands, it encourages just the opposite result. Our opponents correctly fold when we bet hard with a moderate hand, but they stay and play when we bet hard and their hand is ahead of ours.

We can avoid the pitfalls of overplaying our hands by noting two simple concepts. First, we must size our bets so that weaker hands can continue in the pot with us, and second, we must know when it is better to check our hand, rather than bet, in order to control the size of the pot.

The second concept is by far the easiest to grasp. If, by betting, we will convince our opponents to fold a significant portion of their weak hands, we should often check instead. This is known as inducing a bluff, as our opponents might decide to fire at our perceived weakness. We can use this when we have a hand like top two pair on the turn. If we bet, our opponents will fold lots of weak hands like one pair. But if we check, they might bluff with no pair or be more willing to call a bet later in the hand. There is also the off chance they improve to a weaker two pair and proceed to give us a lot of money.

The first concept, sizing our bets so that we price in weaker hands, can take some experience in order to master. Simply put yourself in your opponent’s shoes and ask, “Would I call this bet with second pair?” Often, if the answer is no, we can lower the size of the bet until the answer becomes yes. Then, we have correctly deduced the size of the bet that we need to make in on this street.

Often, deciding between betting less or checking depends on a gut feeling about how our opponent might play the rest of the hand with cards like bottom pair or a busted draw.

Overplaying our hands can result in losing big stacks when we are behind. This will almost certainly be a major leak in an individual’s poker game. Instead of overplaying hands, try instead to control the size of the pot so that the opponent overplays his own hand.

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