Top 5 Mistakes Amateur Poker Players Make

In this blog post, I am going to share with you five mistakes most amateur players make on a regular basis. If you stop making these mistakes, you will immediately see an increase to your win rate.

  1. Overplaying marginal made hands

Almost without fail, every time I play a major tournament where lots of people satellite in, I see an amateur vastly overplay a hand like A-A after the flop. They see a flop of J-9-5, think they have the nuts, and strive to get all-in. In reality, when 300 big blinds go into the pot in this spot, A-A is almost always crushed.

  1. 3-betting preflop with only premium hands

Many amateur players tend to play in a blatantly face-up manner before the flop. They 3-bet (reraise) their best hands, or their best hands plus a few decently strong hands, such as A-J and K-Q, and call with their other playable hands. In reality, they should be 3-betting with a range tailored to take advantage of their opponent’s strategy. Against some players, you should 3-bet with your best hands and your hands that are not quite good enough to call with, such as A-4o, K-7s, and 8-6s, because you expect them to either 4-bet or fold. Against others, you should 3-bet with an incredibly wide range to ensure you see the flop heads-up in position because you know they will check-fold most of the time after the flop when they miss. I discuss this concept thoroughly in my short book Strategies for Beating Small Stakes Poker Cash Games.

  1. Playing incorrectly with a short stack

Most amateurs play either way too tight or way too loose with a short stack. Both of these problems can be quickly solved by diligently studying my completely free Push/Fold app. However, be careful strictly following charts because they assume your opponents play well, which often will not be the case. Other strategies, such as using an all-in/min-raise/limp/fold strategy may be ideal against your specific opponents.

  1. Failing to study away from the table

I am constantly asked how I can make complex decisions at the poker table in the few moments you have to act. The answer is I have studied most situations away from the table. You are fooling yourself if you think you can come up with the correct decision in every spot with just a few minutes of thought. Poker is a difficult game that requires diligent study. Whenever you encounter a difficult decision, write it down and then take a look at it when you are finished playing for the day.

  1. Worrying about short-term results

I have been told many times by amateur players that they can’t believe how unlucky they are. Usually these players have lost five tournaments in a row and can’t comprehend their “bad luck”. In reality, even if you are a world-class player, you will almost certainly go 20 or more tournaments in a row with no cashes at some point in your career if you play enough. The sooner you comprehend the incredible variance that is inherent to poker, the sooner you can focus on the things that matter.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends. If you want to continue working on your poker skills, be sure to sign up for your free 7-day trial to my interactive training site,

Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!

8 thoughts on “Top 5 Mistakes Amateur Poker Players Make”

  1. Love your advice. Strategy as well as all of the analytics are obviously important. Right now for me the most important things I am banging in to my head and reminding myself are 1) Stay positive! Keep my head and know that it coming. 2) POSITION, POSITION, POSITION! 3) Take time and make good decisions. 4) I know that I am constantly in need of improvement and to get better! Knowing that your skill set is always in need of growth in poker is a must. If you’re trying to fool yourself that you got it, you are in trouble! I consider myself an amateur but do think I can hang and love (and won a handful of) tournaments. Your blogs and YouTube channels are a big help and wish I could afford coaching but can’t afford it. I’m hoping to get the chance for any type of coaching and or a shot in a bigger tournament than my usual where I live. Anyways just wanted to write and show my support. Thanks.

    Nick Dealy

  2. Jonathan, Nick seems pretty positive and sincere. Why don’t you privately throw him some pointers?

    I think he deserves it, don’t you?

    p.s. I don’t know Nick, but I like to recognize and reward positive individuals.

    Peace and Love,

  3. Great post. Jonathan, you should be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame for best instructor! Thanks for the books, the blogs, the emails, everything you do. I have all the books, read the blogs, and love your work.

    I’m glad that most of the poker players I run into don’t know anything about what you’ve taught us.

  4. Hey,

    I gotta say, the amount of content you produce is credit to you Jon. You also have a young family, so to spend the time you do with blogs, podcasts, comms, books, emails, hands and everything I’ve missed out, on top of webinars, videos is simply awesome.
    No one can say you don’t try that’s a fact. I hope one day to make you a proud mentor.
    You mentioned volume before, but what if you can’t commit to volume? Being a winning player over 18 yrs of playing, I struggle with volume due to medication for life, can I still make it? I know approximately about 75% over those yrs which is great, but it’s not 100% and I’m not afraid to admit it. I joined this site to learn from the best.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I am glad that you enjoy my work. As for not putting in volume, all you can do is play as much as you reasonably can. If you can only play a little, realize you will have huge swings and that you will have a difficult time grinding up a significant amount of money. That said, you can always get lucky!

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