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6 Habits Terrible Hold’em Players Need to Break


Given that Texas Hold’em is the most popular type of poker, it would stand to reason that the quality of play varies drastically.

The capabilities of certain players might merit consistent wins at the poker table. But, others can find it challenging to break through and become proficient gamblers.

Texas Hold’em is easily one of the best card games that every fan of gambling can succeed at.

However, the task of achieving success in poker can be more trying for some than others.

Certain personality traits can translate to consistency and victories. For example, if you can read people, that skill will serve you well.

Conversely, there are several common characteristics among bad poker players. Those personality types typically result in the development of bad habits.

No one claims that winning money when playing poker is easy. But, if you feel as though you’re struggling more than others, there are probably several mistakes you’re committing.

Here are 6 habits every terrible Hold’em player should break immediately.

1 ‒ Playing Conservatively Early

There are several prevalent misconceptions among bad poker players.

One of the most common is that it’s a good idea to start slow and be conservative in the first few hands. This strategy, a favorite of many new players, is inspired by a few unfortunate fallacies.

  • “If I start slow, I can get a better feel for the competition.”
  • “It will show other players that I’m not a reckless gambler.”
  • “My competition will beat themselves up and someone will inevitably go down early.”
  • “At the very least, I’ll be in a position to attack later in the game when there are fewer competitors.”

While the point of Texas Hold’em is to be the last person standing, being conservative is a misguided approach.

If you choose to start slow for fear of losing your chips, you will inevitably fail in the long run. It’s true that other players will be defeated, and the pool of competitors will shrink.

But, keep in mind that their chips don’t just disappear. While you are waiting in the wings, other players increase their chip count and chances of winning.

2 ‒ Refusing to Cut Losses When You’re Beat

It’s easy to assume your hand is the best at the table. Without verifying that assumption, bad poker players can often talk themselves into betting when they shouldn’t.

When you’re playing Hold’em, it’s important to toe the line between confident play and arrogance. Bad poker players are often either incredibly timid or overly cocky.

Both are inadvisable ways to carry yourself at the table.

If you play with a degree of arrogance, it will be challenging to cut your losses and fold. At some point during most poker games, one player or another will bet a hand aggressively, assuming they will win.

However, as I said, there’s rarely a 100% of knowing that your hand is superior. Bad poker players often assume that they might as well continue to bed through the entirety of the hand because they have bet heavily.

Even if doubt starts to creep in, once you’re past a perceived point of no return, it’s virtually impossible to fold.

Trust me; it’s never a good feeling to see other players win a large portion of your chips. But, if you think you’re beat based on the outcome of the turn and river, don’t feel too proud to fold.

Blind, unwarranted arrogance is something that can and will lead to limited success at the poker table.

You should always make a point not to take Hold’em personally. Just because another player is calling your raises doesn’t mean they are challenging your merits as a player.

3 ‒ Letting Better Players Bully You

Certain poker players enjoy beating up on the competition. If more skilled players notice that you’re less experienced than they are, don’t be surprised to find them teaming up on you.

In the introduction, I mentioned that poker players vary in their abilities and the amount of time they’ve been playing. During most Texas Hold’em games, someone at the table will be better and more experienced than you.

Because of that, it’s your goal to stand your ground and not be bullied by the competition. The easiest way to avoid a barrage of attacks from other players is to avoid their attention entirely.

By playing smart, clean poker, other players will have no reason to pick on you. But, unfortunately, bad poker players often tip their competition off to their lack of abilities.

Once your cover is blown, it’s crucial to establish that you belong at the table.

A common practice you’ll notice is more aggressive players attempting to steal blinds and bully weaker players out of hands.

If you see a particular player constantly raising before the flop, it’s worth pushing back if your cards are worth protecting. By doing this, you’ll make it clear that you won’t be intimidated by the competition.

4 ‒ Developing Tunnel Vision After Being Dealt Pairs

There are few things in the world of real money gambling that are better than being dealt a pair of aces. Immediately, you know that your hand is better than anyone else’s around the table.

While it’s always a pleasant surprise to get dealt a strong pair, victory is not a foregone conclusion.

A situation I see play out far too frequently is bad poker, assuming that they’ll win a hand based on the cards they’re dealt.

If you pay close enough attention, you can almost always tell when a subpar player is dealt a strong hand. Typically they’ll start betting aggressively and, if they’re genuinely terrible, their facial features and mannerisms might change.

Good poker players are always on the lookout for these types of indications. At that point, they’ll choose to bow out of a hand or try to capitalize on the inexperience.

The best-case scenario is that your competitors have nothing and will fold. While you might walk away from the hand with a few more chips, the opportunity to shift momentum is blown.

In the worst-case scenario, another player will recognize what’s going on and decide to play. At some point in the hand, whether during the flop, turn, or river, the hand’s relative strength will decrease.

But, instead of realizing this, bad players will continue to defend their pocket pair and ultimately lose the hand. Pocket cards are crucial to success in a given hand, but the game doesn’t stop after the cards are dealt.

5 ‒ Being Too Chatty During Hands

Often poker players feel compelled to converse during games. The social aspect is one of the best parts of gambling, but there’s always a time and place.

Bad poker players often have obvious tells, which can tip other players off. One of the most blatant ones is an inability to appreciate silence during a game.

If things are going well for you at the tables, you’ll likely feel jovial and talkative. If the game isn’t going your way, you might be less open to conversation.

That’s understandable, but always be aware that other players will slowly but surely pick up on your patterns.

It’s hard to offer advice about how much players should talk at the tables because no two poker games are the same. One day you might play against gamblers who will talk your ear off. Other times your fellow players might not say more than a few words the entire game.

As someone who struggles, you should try to avoid being the center of attention or the conversation starter. The more you talk, the more vulnerable you can expose yourself to other players.

That isn’t to say you should ignore them entirely, just be aware that some competitors always have an ulterior motive.

6 ‒ Only Playing When Money’s on the Line

A surefire way to continue to play losing poker is by only playing when money is involved.

I can’t fault casual players for not playing poker in their free time. Some people just enjoy playing the occasional cash games with friends and families.

But, for those who want to improve, an effective way to do so is to play casual games with no financial implications.

When money is on the line, bad players are tense and can never seem to loosen up. When you play tight, you can be more prone to make mistakes and be unable to bounce back in a timely manner.

Playing for fun will provide you with a good experience and enable you to learn to play loose. Other players will pick up on your inability to relax, so it’s crucial to approach the game with some composure.

At the end of the day, Hold’em is just a game, so you might as well have fun while you’re playing it.


Exercising bad habits at the poker table can severely decrease your chances of improving as a player. Luckily, there are several widespread habits that you can be on the lookout for the next time you play.

A telltale sign of a less than average poker player is an inability to start strong. Instead of choosing to be aggressive, they try on to their pile of chips while other players duke it out.

At some point, you’re going to get burned thinking that you have the best hand at the table. Just because you’re dealt pocket aces doesn’t mean you’re destined to win a hand.

Other, better players will always be on the lookout for gambles with less experience and skill. If someone starts to play you aggressively, stand your ground, especially if your cards are worth defending.

Bad poker players often reveal too much about themselves while gambling. If you consider yourself a nervous talker, try to be a casual, if not slightly aloof member of any in-game conversation.

Finally, bad players have to be open to playing games for fun instead of money. You will be hard-pressed to improve if you’re always playing up tight.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for since early 2016. …

View all posts by Michael Stevens

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