Poker Strategy: The Truth Behind Some Beginner Misconceptions

Poker is an entertaining and engaging game. It’s easy to see its popularity, from the numerous high-stakes competitive tournaments to the millions of online poker players worldwide. 

This fame also comes with the expected longevity. The game arrived in America nearly two centuries ago, going from a game frequented by hustlers and criminals to a respected, competitive sport. Many things about poker have changed over time, from its strategy to the ways you can play. 

However, since the game is constantly changing, it can be difficult for beginners to stay up to date. Many myths and urban legends have become popularized to the point of being seen as common knowledge.

This poker guide aims to clear up some of the most prevalent misconceptions about the game. If you’re a beginner, you likely still believe at least one. Read on, and apply what you learn in your games!

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Limping is terrible.

Many beginner players think that limping, which is when you call the blind pre-flop instead of raising or folding, is an acceptable poker strategy. Some may even use it as their default course of action pre-flop since it gives you an excellent chance of seeing the flop without much risk. 

If you think limping is cool, you couldn’t be more wrong, as it is often one of the worst mistakes you can make in poker. It accomplishes nothing essentially because it’s unlikely that everyone else will call and allow you to see the flop easily. 

What are the alternatives to limping? 

Raising gives you a chance at winning the pot outright if everyone folds. It reduces the number of players in the pot. Hence, winning is more effortless and even builds the pot, so your potential reward is more significant. 

Folding allows you to leave the hand without monetary commitment unless you are one of the blinds. Playing from the small blind is one of the few times limping may achieve its intention since you already have money in the pot, so the cost of limping isn’t too high.

Poker isn’t a game of chance.

Many newer players might think that poker, like other casino games, is a game that only requires luck. The outcome of a hand can be entirely decided by the cards, which is true. However, that doesn’t mean the whole game is luck based. 

Skill is more impactful in poker for two reasons. The first is that not all games are decided by your hand. Bluffing can win you pots even with a terrible hand, which is why it is so potent. At the same time, you can quickly lose games even with the strongest pre-flop starting hands, like pocket aces. If you play badly and cannot protect your strong hand, you could get beaten by drawing hands that make straights and flushes.

The second reason is that luck is only short-term. Poker is an incredibly long-term game; players often measure their win rates and earnings in big blinds per hour. Over a long time, luck will even out. You could experience down and lucky streaks, but things will return to normal. That is why skill is so critical; it’s the one constant in all your games and will decide whether you make a profit over time.

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Passively playing won’t prevent losses. 

Another common misconception is that passive play is the best for beginners, as it will minimize losses for you to learn the game. 

While you may not lose large pots, passive play is not a winning strategy. It will make you slowly lose over time, doomed to rely only on the strength of your hand. Without any proactive raises or bets, you’re essentially just gambling. You’ll lose far more often than you win, and any wins you get will be tiny since you’re not building the pot. Playing too passively is the most surefire way to lose in poker, and it is far too prevalent among beginners. 

Bluffing is only part of the game. 

People who get into poker watching TV shows and competitive tournaments may think it’s a 24/7 bluff-fest. They believe that, on every hand, players try their best to deceive each other and come out on top. 

Rounds involve intense mind games and psychological warfare, but it’s not always about bluffing. Bluffs are far less common than you may think, and good bluffs cannot replace solid fundamentals. Part of why bluffs are so strong is their surprise factor. If you overuse them for no reason, they become significantly less effective.  

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Online poker isn’t rigged.

Some people think online poker is rigged against them. This belief is just an excuse to wave away their losses and has no basis in reality. With the competitive online poker industry, why would any site want to rig games and potentially alienate their players into choosing a competitor? 

Some players may feel that bad beats occur more often, but that is most likely confirmation bias due to the faster pace of online poker. If you play more hands online and only remember the bad beats, you’ll feel they occur more frequently. 

Countless examples of players making a living from online poker prove that the game is not rigged. Remember, you can’t improve if you keep looking for excuses instead of focusing on your gameplay.