Here are five hidden mistakes that often harm the bottom line of players relatively new to tournaments without them realizing it. Even experienced tournament players can sometimes be guilty of some of these, too.
1. Not being aware of stack sizes
Size matters in poker, and not just your own stack size. You need to be aware of not only how much you have, but the stack sizes of anyone who has entered the pot in front of you and anyone still to act behind you. If you’re not, you may well end up making a big mistake.
2. Not keeping big chips in front
While this mistake won’t cost you any chips, it won’t make you any friends at the table, either, as it’ll likely slow the game down and lead to fewer hands being played per hour.
It’s accepted etiquette that the largest denomination chips should be at the front of your chip stack, making them easily identifiable to everyone else at the table. This means keeping them front and center.
Arranging your chips in stacks of 20 is also helpful not just for keeping track of your own chips, but making them presentable to others. However you stack your chips, do it neatly enough to ensure others can count them.
3. Tossing in a big chip without announcing a raise or the exact bet amount
Tossing in a single big chip does not indicate a raise, but rather a call. There are two ways players usually fall afoul of this rule. The first is just tossing the chip in and saying nothing at all. That will always go as a call. The second way is a little more complicated.
Imagine the blinds are 150/300 and two players have made it to the turn with about 6,000 in the middle. In this spot, it’s no good tossing in a 5,000-denomination chip and saying “three.” Sure, it’s clear that in this instance you’ve certainly meant to bet 3,000, but as the minimum legal bet is 300 it can go as a bet of 300. That would be bad for you, because not only have you let your opponent(s) see a cheap river card, if you were making a value bet you’ve also left value on the table.
4. Assuming your opponent plays like you do
This one is a little tricky to explain, but dovetails with the idea of “playing the player, not the cards.”
Basically if you’re ever in a hand in which you’re having to call a big bet or a shove — happens frequently, right? — make sure your thought process goes along the lines of “What would he/she shove in this spot?” and not “What would I shove in this spot?”
Everyone has different playing styles and you need to get outside of your head and into theirs to make better reads at the poker table.
5. Going with it regardless of new information
Always stop and think before acting, utilizing all the information available to you. If new information turns a slam dunk shove into a fold, then make that tough fold — just don’t tell anyone, right?