Poker is a difficult game to master, even if the basic rules are simple to grasp. Players who have spent time putting together refined strategies end up having fewer choices to make – and end up collecting more cash. However, there are plenty of places to make mistakes, and pre-flop is one of them. No street gets more action or has more significance than the pre-flop, so take a look at five pre-flop mistakes that savvy players avoid.
Don’t try to win with an open limp
If you just call the big blind pre-flop and are the first player in the pot, that’s called open limping. This differs from raising because it does not set you up with an immediate chance to rake in the pot. The small blind and big blind have already brought in some dead money, but calling doesn’t let you grab it for yourself.
When you do an open limp, you set things up nicely for the players behind you. The pot now has an extra big blind, so they have more reason to call (if not raise). As more players enter the pot, your hand equity dwindles. The players behind you will either try to take advantage of what is now a weakened range for you or take out more value with a strong hand.
Stay aware of your position
Your hand position should play a role in your hand range. The earlier you play, the tighter your range should be, because you have elevated risk of running into a strong hand. If you open too wide when you’re early, you won’t be able to defend your range.
Stay active against raises
If you stay too passive against opens by choosing not to 3-bet and simply calling, you’re making a big mistake. If you flat open when you have a strong hand, instead of 3-betting, you’re just leaving value on the table. When you 3-bet, you keep hands from running multi-way, and you pull more value from your competition because you’re enlarging the pot. Make sure, though, that you don’t restrict your 3-betting only to your strong hands – include some bluffs to remain unpredictable. Too many players include this among their pre-flop mistakes.
Don’t play too tight in the big blind
A lot of players don’t call enough at the big blind, particularly against opens I the small blind. Since you are the last to go pre-flop, you can loosen your play from the big blind.
Watch your raising range on the button
When you’re at the button, you go last post-flop, which means you have the edge in information in comparison to your opponents. You can also apply pressure to the blinds when action folds to you, and there can be dead money in the pot for you to rake in. It’s important to find a balance, because if you raise too often on the button, players can exploit you with 3-betting on the blinds. Aim for a range between 40 and 70 percent, depending on how likely the blinds are to 3-bet. When they get conservative, loosen up your game to rake in the cash.
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