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by Bill Burton

Bill Burton is the author of 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets available at, and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em. He is an instructor for Golden Touch Craps:

Whether you are victorious in a poker tournament or just the victor in the ring games, you have to look at each session as a contest to be won. Although your objective is to make money in a ring game or win the final table in a tournament, your main objective when you play poker is to always make the correct decisions. You won't win every time you make the correct decision, and you won't lose every time you make a bad decision. However, the player who makes the best decisions will win the most money in the long run. A winning player learns to be patient and not make rash decisions.

A player consistently making poor decisions will lose money. It has been said that in a low-limit game you will make more money from your opponent's bad decisions than you will from your good decisions alone. When your opponents make mistakes, you must capitalize on them. Here are some mistakes that your opponents (but hopefully not you) will make.

Playing To Many Hands.

Many players have made the decision to play, period. They will play any cards as long as they are involved in the hand. Once they are in a hand, they will continue to play to the end.

Playing Hands Out of Position.

Many players will play weaker starting cards out of position. They leave themselves open to raises from players acting after them who have stronger hands.

Cold-Calling Raises

Many players will routinely cold call raises before the flop with marginal hands. This costly mistake will take its toll.

Not Reading The Board.

Some players don't read the board, or they read the board incorrectly. They will call a bet even though they are clearly beaten. I have seen players call a bet with a hand that is lower than the board cards. If a bet is made, and your hand can't beat the board cards, you must fold.

Checking Instead of Betting

Unless you have a very strong or unbeatable hand, you should bet after the flop. Too many times a player with a legitimate hand will check instead of betting. This allows any player who has a drawing hand to receive a free card.

Betting Instead of Checking

There will be situations when it will be better for you to check than to bet. If you have a drawing hand, you want to see the next card as cheaply as possible. If you bet, you may be raised and it will cost you two bets. If you check, your opponent may check and you will receive a free card.

Folding the Winning Hand.

This can prove to be the most costly mistake you can make Sometimes it will be clear that you are beaten and you should muck your hand instead of making a crying call. If however, you have stayed in the hand to the very end and the pot is extremely large, you should call if there is a chance you may have the wining hand. If there is $100 in the pot and it will cost you $6 to call, you are getting over 16 to 1 odds for your bet.

Victors Conquer

Winners bet while losers call. You will see the winning player taking the offensive and playing very aggressively. They tend to initiate the action whenever possible. This is not to say you should play recklessly. An aggressive player will have a calculated plan that will lead them to victory, while a reckless player has no plan and usually are defeated.

But of all the conquests you make at the poker table, your biggest will be conquering your own emotions. Your emotions as a player WILL have an impact on your game. They say that winning can be simple. All you have to do is always play your best game. This is easier said than done for most of us. We can be, and are, our own worst enemies.

Several factors contribute to our state of mind. Whenever you play, you should be well rested, alert, and free from worrying about other problems in your life. If you bring these problems to the table, it can only interfere with your playing your "A" game. Here is a tip that will save you money.

If you are getting ready to drive to the card room and you start to debate whether you really feel like playing, STAY HOME! Don't even waste your time or your gas. You will more than likely have a losing session because your head is not in the game.

You should also be confident of your own abilities. You don't have to be the best player in the world to win at Texas Hold'em. You just have to be a better player than the other players at the table are. Some players can easily intimidate other players. This can happen if you find yourself over matched, or in a ramming-jamming game with a bunch of maniac players. You need to be aware of this. If, for any reason, you don't feel you can play your best game against the opponents at the table or you think you are in over your head, then you should get out and find a different game.

Victors know how to pick their battles. They choose the ones they fell confident they could win. When you are playing poker, you should look at each hand as new battle. Knowing when to fight (play) and when to retreat (fold) will make you a victorious player.

Until next time, remember: "Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"

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