I have met players that claimed to be winning players who when asked about pot odds looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Pot odds is yet another overlooked fundamental of winning 8g88 play.
Every bet we make has a long term expectation of either winning or losing. The concept of pot odds is central to this theme. Playing draw hands should not be an intimidating excercise. Either you have the odds to call, or you do not. Simple decisions that do not require college math to make.
We have an excellent section explaining pot odds and even a pot odds cheat sheet that you can use until you have committed the numbers to memory.
Not paying attention to the game.
This one is most difficult, even for winning players. Even so, it is still a leak. You see those players who have a great connection but their “act“ timer almost always runs out? They may be multi-tabling, but most often they have three instant messaging chats going, are answering emails and watching Oprah at the same time. What they are not doing is playing poker!
Don’t allow yourself to be too distracted. Fill your time between hands by watching the other players, noting patterns in their betting, attempt to put them on a hand and see if you were correct. Does Sue bet with 4 to a flush or does she always wait on a made flush to bet? What does Bill raise with? Call with? Does he always slowplay big hands to the Turn when bets are doubled?
Players would be amazed at how much information is there for the taking if they will just pay attention. The difference in your bankroll will be surprising as well!
Folding on the river to one bet when the pot is large.
Not all leaks are as obvious as others. This particular leak often escapes the attention of profitable players, and is even more prevalent in weak players who are enamored by all those “great laydowns,” we have seen in televised poker events. If you are playing good starting hands, then by the time the river card falls, your hand should be pretty good. Unless you are staring at a busted draw, if you have made it to the river on a garbage hand, then you should skip over to our Texas Holdem Strategy section and rethink your game. Simple chip leaks are the least of your problems!
The rule of thumb to follow here is, if the pot is a good sized pot, if you can beat a bluff, and if it only costs one bet to see the cards, then it is almost always a mistake to fold. Simple pot odds play into this concept.
For example, there are $20 in the pot and it costs you $2 to see if your hand is the winner. You are getting 10:1 odds on your call. You would need to be right only once in ten to show a profit! If you were wrong nine times, it has cost you $18, but by being right just once, winning the $20, you show a $2 profit.
Are you 90% sure your hand is beaten? If so then fold. Against a tight-passive player, or rock, you might consider folding. Against almost any other player who makes even a rare bluff, calling one bet on the river will generally show profit in the long run.
Count the pot, calculate the pot odds, and then weigh that against the opponent’s tendency to bluff. If the numbers add up, do not hesitate to make the call and do not beat yourself up if he has the better hand. Again, you only need to be right a couple of times to show nice profit on this play. An added benefit will be that players will not be as prone to bluff into you, since you will not gain that “weak/tight” reputation as a player who is easy to bluff off of a pot!
Why stop here? Because we could go on all day with chip leaks. I guess the concluding chip leak would be “players who quit searching for them.” Never stop the process of self-examination. Though some have managed brief moments of perfection, there have been no perfect poker players in the history of the game.
Study, Play, Review, Study, Play, Review! You will find your chips piling up in the process.