Common Pre-flop Mistakes You Should Avoid
Having a sound poker strategy is the best weapon in your arsenal. However, poker is such a complex sport that all of us are bound to make mistakes. I firmly believe that preflop is the most important street as a lot is left to the imagination and discerning your opponents isn’t that easy.
In this article, we’ll talk about common mistakes made by most beginners as well as a few pros. Tackling these mistakes can be rectified with a little fine-tuning and prudence. So, here goes:
When you just call the big blind pre-flop, it’s called open limping. It’s mostly a bad strategy for the following reasons:
You can’t win the pot pre-flop by open limping. It’s a passive action and there’s no way you can win the pot. Let’s just call it dead money because you didn’t make any attempts to steal the small or the big blinds.
Open limping gives others a chance. Players behind you are now in a good spot. With extra cash in the pot, they can raise against your weak position. When more players join the pot, your odds of winning decrease.
Opponents will likely be more aggressive now keeping you on a perceived weak range. Keep in mind that limping isn’t always a bad thing. If people before you have limped, and your hand isn’t worth a raise but too strong to fold; it’s better to just call and see the pot.
Power of Position
Position and range go hand-in-hand. Your position should influence the range of hands you’re willing to play.
Very simply, if there more players to act behind you, your range should be tighter. The more the number of players left, the more the chances of you playing against stronger hands. With marginal hands, it’s difficult to profit when opening from early position.
As you move closer to the button, widen your range. Late position players have a positional advantage.
Being passive against raises
Sometimes, you want to trap opponents, or don’t want to inflate the pot (for whatever reason), or you want to lie low and not give out information. Choosing not to be is a mistake for several reasons.
First, by 3-betting strong hands, you can isolate the original raisers. You stop the pot from going multi-way. The equity of strong hands decreases when the number of players in the pot increases. Second, by just flat calling, you leave the table open and opponents with marginal hands can flop the nuts, thus putting you in an awkward spot. Third, by 3-betting with strong hands, you can increase the size of the pot and extract more value when your cards hit.
Please note that this can get mechanical and some good opponents might pick this. It’s not just about tight range hands; the idea is not to get predictable and throw in a bluff or two every once in a while. Otherwise, your opponents will just fold marginal hands and wait for their stronger hands. Also, keep in mind your position in relation to your range when 3-betting.
Playing tight in the big blind
Preflop, you’re last to act; which means that you’ll often get good pot odds to take a flop. Playing loose from the big blind can be beneficial; it’s much better than few other positions. Also, people tend to open more with small blinds than the big, this is a mistake.
Playing for the sake of it because you’re on the button
It goes without saying that the button is the most valuable position in poker. I would not like to explicate here as I’m sure you already know. What I would like to talk about is when people raise too many times, just because they’re on the button. Many times, the blinds will call your bet, putting a dent in your overall win rate.
Consequently, some players are too tight on the button. They already have the positional advantage; an opportunity to attack the pot, re-raising the pot, etc. If you don’t do any of this, you’ll hurt your overall winning rate.
Making a Play for the Sake of “Mixing it up”
Sometimes, players try to mix their games just for the sake of it. They might even do it to throw their opponents off the game. However, randomly mixing up your game can land you in trouble and create huge dents in your stack.
Not Calling enough from the button
Even with a wide range of hands, you should be willing to call from the button. In the forthcoming streets, you’ll be acting the last post-flop. With the right equity, you can take the flop. Many people fold the button just because they don’t get a hand which lies in their supposed range.
Flat calling from the Small Blind
Playing passively from the small blind is a common mistake. Even though you’re getting improved pot odds, you’re also going to play out of position the entire hand.
3-betting your range to build a pot and isolate the preflop raiser is a better idea. You are better off 3-betting than just calling. Opponents with good position who’ve raised on a wide range will find it difficult to protect their hand.
Secondly, looking at this pattern, your opponents will be discouraged to steal pots against you.
Lastly, 3-betting discourages the big blind from seeing the flop cheaply.
Not having a plan
More than a weakness, this is a culmination of all points mentioned above. A proper preflop strategy will be based on analyzing and working on your weaknesses ahead of time. This will help you build a solid foundation to become a winning player.