What Am I Doing Wrong in Poker? (Pro Advice)

What Am I Doing Wrong in Poker?
People often ask me these days what they are doing wrong in poker. Why can't they win?

And believe me, I understand your pain. I struggled for a long time to develop a winning poker strategy. And some of my early years as a poker pro were a huge struggle.

But I eventually figured out what I was doing wrong in poker that was holding me back. And once I made that discovery, my winnings started to increase dramatically.

So in this article I am going to list the top 7 things that I see people doing wrong in poker.

1. You Are Not Playing Enough Hands

This first one is going to sound a little bit silly to some, but it is so important. One of the biggest reasons why many people do not win at poker, is because they simply do not play enough.

Since poker is a long term game based on exploiting small edges over massive amounts of volume, you need to play a ton of hands to get ahead.

During my early years as an online poker pro, I would often play as much 200,000 or 300,000 hands of poker per month. I would very often be 24 tabling on PokerStars, back when they allowed you to play that many tables.

These days it is not as easy to multi-table but it is still possible for those that really want to. You can play on multiple sites for example and use poker software tools to help you play more tables.

But many people that I see these days haven't even played more than 100k hands of poker in their entire career!

I am sorry guys, but this is nowhere near enough hands. If you want to make it in this game as a semi-pro or a long term pro, then it is absolutely vital that you learn to embrace the grind, and play more poker.

As I often say, don't talk about it, be about it!

2. Learn From Your Mistakes at the Poker Table

Related to this is learning from your mistakes at the poker table. One of the biggest things that people do wrong in poker is not learn from their past hands.

When you win or lose a hand of poker there are always many lessons to be learned.

This is why I am always preaching the importance on this blog of reviewing your hands in a good poker HUD and tracking program.

I have spent countless hours over the years reviewing my hands in PokerTracker specifically, which has allowed me to find the mistakes that I am making and learn from them.

The hands that interest me the most are the ones where I lose between 20bb and 50bb. I feel that you will learn the most from the medium sized pots that you lost.

Because let's face it, most of the pots that you win, you probably played well. And most huge pots that you lost were just big coolers or bad beats. So I prefer to focus heavily on reviewing the medium sized pots that I lost.

This is where the rubber meets the road in poker in my experience. The biggest winners are able to win more of these medium sized pots than everybody else.

Lastly, I also use PokerTracker to study the best players in my games and learn from them as well. There is absolutely no reason why you can't study the strategies that they use and incorporate them into your own game.

After all, these players are winning big for a reason! Study what they do and learn from it by reviewing their hands as well in PokerTracker.

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3. You Are Tilting Too Much

One of the biggest things that people do wrong in poker, is get wrapped up emotionally in their short term results. This often results in frustration, poor play, and ultimately tilt.

Tilt is an absolute destroyer of bankrolls, dreams and even careers in this game. It wasn't until I learned how to remove the devastating impact of tilt from my game that I finally started seeing some real and lasting results at the poker tables.

This is especially true if you play micro stakes poker or small stakes poker games. As I have discussed before, you are going to take endless bad beats in these games, along with all of the regular coolers as well.

Here is a video I made discussing how the pros deal with all these coolers and bad beats.

So along with learning a winning poker strategy for these limits, it is absolutely vital that you learn to maintain your cool as well when the cards inevitably go south on you.

It is extremely important that you remember to always stay focused on the long term and ignore the random swings in your short term results.

This is why I suggest just printing out a graph of your long term results in PokerTracker for example and posting it to your wall, just to constantly remind yourself of what is real.

You should also employ quitting strategies or a stop loss when you feel the tilt coming on. The bottom line is don't allow tilt to ruin your poker results anymore.

When people ask me what they are doing wrong in poker, going on tilt and throwing away all their profit with poor emotionally charged decisions, is nearly always at the very top of the list.

4. You Are Not Improving Your Game Away From the Poker Tables

One of the biggest areas where people go wrong in poker these days is not improving their game away from the tables.

Poker is highly competitive these days and it is not enough to just sit down at the tables every once in awhile and expect to crush everyone.

On the contrary, the best players these days are not only studying their hands and fixing their leaks away from the tables (as mentioned above), but they are also studying new advanced poker strategies in their spare time as well.

This is how you learn to stay one step ahead of the competition these days by learning the cutting edge strategies and theories before they do.

Luckily, there are tons of excellent poker training sites, high level poker courses, poker strategy books, study groups, forums and even private coaching to help you these days.

Not all of it is going to be free of course but this is just part of the job these days. All of the best poker players that I know are consistently upgrading their skill-set away from the tables in their spare time.

This is the same as any professional in the business world these days. If you are not constantly evolving and improving your knowledge within your industry, you will get left behind.

The same goes for poker.

Strategies change, games change, and you need to learn how to evolve with it. This is why it is absolutely vital that you are studying some advanced poker training away from the poker tables to improve your game.

5. You Are Not Bringing Your Best Game to the Table Every Time You Play

Another thing many people do wrong in poker these days is fail to consistently bringing their best game to the poker table, every time they sit down to play.

What I mean by this is being in a clear, confident state of mind, ready to crush your opponents. Many people instead choose to play while they are far from their best.

Perhaps they are tired, hungry, depressed, frustrated and so on. You aren't going to achieve your best results at the table if you don't come better prepared than this.

Much like a professional athlete game preps for hours before the game to be in their best condition when the match starts, I recommend you do the exact same thing if you take poker seriously.

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So this means proper nutrition, exercise and sleep for starters. But it also means meditation and visualization before sessions, creating the perfect environment for grinding, especially if you play online and so on.

What Am I Doing Wrong in Poker?

I am very much a beach person and I find it to be very calming and helps prevent me from tilting, so you will often find me grinding poker right at the beach these days.

You gotta do what is right for you and what works best for you though.

Basically, every single time you sit down at the poker table you should be feeling confident and ready to play your "A-game." And I mean always, no exceptions!

Because if you aren't, then you are putting yourself at a real disadvantage towards other people like me who take this game very seriously.

This is why I suggest that you create an entire healthy lifestyle around your poker career and remove as many bad habits as you can. Also, remove all toxic people from your life.

I am very cautious about who I allow in my inner circle these days. Only elite poker pros or other online professional who live a positive, healthy lifestyle like me, and we help build each other up.

Everything else is just noise and gets tuned out.

Not only will this make you a healthier, happier person overall, but it will also make you handle the constant ups and downs of poker much better.

I like to practice what I preach so this is why I post my daily lifestyle of healthy living even while traveling the world on my Instagram stories.

I want people to know what someone who takes poker very seriously is actually doing on a day to day basis in terms of nutrition, physical exercise and creating the right environment to crush the opposition every single day.

6. You Aren't Thin Value Betting Enough

Ah, thin value betting. The number one poker strategy mistake that I see newer players in particular making again and again.

It is extremely important at the micro stakes in particular that you learn how to get those extra value bets in especially with your second and third pair hands on the turn and river.

This is one of the biggest differences between a small winner and a big winner at these stakes.

For Example:

You have 99 and the final board runout is T83K5 and your opponent has checked to you.

If you are using a proper loose and aggressive (LAG) poker strategy like I talk about and recommend in Modern Small Stakes, then this should be an automatic thin value bet for you here.

Your image alone should get you paid off here. But this also just a routine +EV (expected value) bet at the micro stakes in particular.

Or in other words, it makes money versus most players over the long run. So many people miss what should be very routine thin value bets like this though.

And that in turn has a devastating impact on their long term winrate because the bets on the turn and the river in Texas Hold'em, are on average the biggest, and therefore the most important.

7. You Need to Make the Obvious Folds Versus the Nits

If you play at the lower limits in particular, then you are going to encounter tons of "nits" or overly tight poker players.

These players will have HUD stats that look like this:
  • 6max: 17/14/2 (vpip/pfr/af)
  • Full Ring: 12/9/2 (vpip/pfr/af)
By the way, I have already written an entire article discussing what the best poker HUD stats are these days.

Now, versus these kinds of players, you absolutely have to respect them when they start giving you big action on what I like to call the "big money streets," the turn and the river.

This is especially the case if you raise preflop with an over-pair like pocket aces or pocket kings, bet the flop, bet the turn and then they raise you.

This is almost always a set versus these types of players, or in other words three of a kind. And what that ultimately means is that your big over-pair is totally screwed. You are drawing almost completely dead.

So it is extremely important that you learn to stop paying off these robotic nits and recognize when they finally wake up with a big hand.

As I discussed right off the top, this is something that you will learn primarily through experience. And that is why my #1 tip is just to play more poker!

Because that is ultimately how I finally learned how to stop paying off the nits in routine spots like this.

Final Thoughts

People often ask me these days, what am I doing wrong in poker. And to be honest, it usually boils down to just a handful of mistakes which are fairly easy to fix.

Firstly, you have to learn to fully embrace the grind and play a ton of hands. If there is one mistake that I consistently see people making these days, it's that they just don't play enough.

Turn off the Netflix, stop wasting time on Reddit or engaging in pointless political debates. It's time to make poker a priority if you are serious about having long term success in this game.

Secondly, you also need to make sure that you are learning from your mistakes. This is why I always suggest reviewing your hands in a good poker tracking program like PokerTracker.

Furthermore, you need to learn how to remove the devastating impact of tilt from your game if you are ever going to have large scale success.

You just can't afford to make poor decisions anymore, simply because you are frustrated, and expect to win big over the long term. All poker pros and semi-pros know this.

Lastly, you really need to focus on consistently improving your game away from the tables these days and bringing your A-game every single time you sit down to play.

You also need to pay close attention to your value betting, especially thin value bets, and also, learn how to make the right folds versus the obvious nits at the table.

Learning how to consistently win at poker these days is possible for nearly anybody if you are willing to take these simple steps.

In my experience, those who are serious about being successful in poker are already doing most of these things. Are you?

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What Am I Doing Wrong in Poker?