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Bad Poker Tendencies and Habits

by Randy Ray

Poker is a mental game. Bad poker players online tend to exhibit the same bad habits and play with the same weak tendencies.

You can use this to your advantage in 2 ways:

  • By knowing what the bad habits and tendencies are, you can avoid exhibiting them yourself, and make yourself a better poker player.
  • You can exploit your opponents' bad playing tendencies more efficiently.

Self Destructive Poker Player Tendencies

The most self-destructive tendency online poker players exhibit is their reluctance to take responsibility for their own results. If they're losing, they'll insist it's because the software is rigged, the other players are colluding, or there were bots in the game. They invariably offer nothing more than the most circumstantial of evidence for any of these "theories".

Poker Tendencies and Habits

These players would play much better poker if they would take the time to think critically and analytically about their playing style. One way to force yourself to think critically about your poker game is to write about it. You can do this on a poker blog, a static poker website, or in a private poker journal, but no matter the method, the act of writing about the game is one of the best poker habits you can have.

Winning at online poker is hard if you don't think about the game. On the other hand, it's easy if you're willing to develop good poker habits instead of bad ones. Taking responsibility for your results is a good habit.

A shorter way of saying all that is don't make excuses for losing.

You might also enjoy our strategy article about how to play pocket aces preflop in a no limit Texas holdem game.

Wild Gambling

Another tendency that poker players exhibit is the eagerness to gamble wildly and often. Going all-in preflop with pocket 7's and sucking out on the guy with AA can be fun, but it's a long term recipe for failure and money loss.

The players who most often display the tendency to gamble wildly are players on a big winning streak or losing streak. Something about being on any kind of streak generates crazy raising and betting that just shouldn't be happening.

If you believe that tight play is good play, then demonstrate the discipline to fold your bad hands. Don't bluff much.

Online Poker Tells

Online poker tells mostly rely on reading your opponent's hand selection tendencies and their raising and betting tendencies. You can't look at their hand to see if it's shaking, or at their eyes to see if they're looking at their chips. But you can keep up with roughly what percentage of the time they're seeing a flop. You can also pay attention to what kinds of hands they raise with.

Some people watch the length of time it takes a player to make a bet. This is 1 of the more unreliable online tells, but the poker tell rule of strong means weak and weak means strong applies. Someone who seems to be thinking hard about calling your bet probably has a strong hand, and someone who raises instantly is probably trying to display strength in order to get you to fold.

Poker Habits Are Your Friend

Your goal is to develop good poker habits and exploit your opponents' bad poker habits. The first step in doing so is learning the difference between good and bad poker tendencies. Making excuses, gambling wildly, and ignoring tells are all bad poker habits to avoid. Thinking critically about your gameplay and taking responsibility for your results are good habits.

Winning players develop good habits and eliminate their bad habits.

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