Popular Texas Hold’em Leaks and How to Fix Them

Texas Holdem Poker Leaks and Fixes
What are the most popular Texas Hold’em leaks and how to fix them?

Texas Holdem poker is the most popular poker game to play at both online and real land casinos. In this game, there is a term known as Leak which is actually a flaw in how you play the game that makes you lose your money. Some of the most common Texas hold’em leaks are that you play too loose or play too passively or you slow or play too much or you are too predictable. Here are some popular Texas Hold’em leaks.

Note that poker involves a random element that can lead you to believe that you’re a better player than you are. Some of the worst players at the table are absolutely convinced that they play well.

How to fix the popular Texas Hold’em leaks?

Your worst poker leaks probably haven’t even occurred to you as possible problems. Here are some examples of common Texas hold’em leaks and how to fix those leaks as advised by poker player Randy Ray.

1. Slow-Playing Premium Hands Preflop

Preflop leaks
Slow-Playing Premium Hands Preflop

If you’re playing in a limit Texas hold ’em game online it’s a $3/$6 game which means you’re first to act. You get a pair of aces (or a pair of kings). This is a premium hand, but you’re nervous about not getting paid off for it. It’s a common mistake to just limp here, but that’s always a mistake in a limit game because a lot of poker players spend time watching Texas hold’em games on television. These are usually no-limit games and/or tournaments.

In a no-limit game, you might limp here, especially if you’re playing with some loose-aggressive opponents. If you limp in a no-limit game, and someone raises you three or four big bets afterward, you can push all-in. Sometimes you’ll win the pot outright in such a situation, which is a bummer because it’s usually a small pot. Sometimes you’ll wind up heads-up with an opponent, and you stand to be a favorite for a lot of chips because they called your all-in bet.

But this doesn’t work in a limit game. You don’t get the opportunity to put your opponent all-in. Also, if you wind up in a pot with a lot of other players in that situation, your cards aren’t as likely to hold up. With a big pair like that, you’re hoping to get heads up with someone. Also with a lot of opponents, the probability that someone’s going to draw out on you goes way up. So stop slow-playing aces and kings from early position in limit games which means a losing play and a big leak.

2. Giving Up Too Easily Preflop

Preflop fixes in poker
Giving Up Too Easily Preflop

Suppose you’re playing in the $4/$8 limit game at the Winstar in Oklahoma. You’re in the big blind, so you’ve posted $4. You get the king and the 9 of spades as your hole cards. This is a speculative hand, for sure, but it looks like you’re going to get in cheap. Three players limp in, but a player on seems to like his cards a lot, so he raises to $8.

Some people who think they’re great at poker fold here because K9 suited isn’t strong enough to call a raise. Other people, who also think they’re great at poker, raise here. Their goal is to run some of these limpers out of the pot. This is probably better than folding because if some of the limpers fold, you have some dead money in the pot.

The right decision here, though, is to call. You have a playable hand. Also with lots of players in the pot, you’ll get paid off if you hit your hand. You already have $4 in the pot, so you’re only putting in another $4. Even if two of the limpers fold, you’ll still be in the pot with two other players it’s more likely that only one of the limpers will fold, and they might even both stay in the hand.

After all, they already have $2 in the pot, too. The only thing you really need to worry about here is getting re-raised, but most of the players at this level aren’t limping and then re-raising, even if they have a great hand. If one of them does re-raise, it might be time to fold. But giving up in a situation like this too easily is an easy mistake to make.

3. Getting Bored and Discouraged

Poker fixes
Getting Bored and Discouraged

You’ve been sitting at a limit Texas hold’em table for an hour now. You’ve folded every hand you’ve gotten preflop because even the cards you had in the big blind weren’t good enough to play. The table was short-handed for at least the first half-hour, so the blinds were hitting you hard and fast. Also, the players at the table have been playing “no fold’em hold ’em.” Literally, every hand has been played down to the river.

One player has been playing all kinds of nonsense out of position. He’s also playing too passive before the flop and your chip stack is half what it was when you bought in. You’re getting bored, frustrated, and discouraged. Finally, you get an A-10 offsuit. You start firing raises and re-raises preflop like you had a pair of kings or aces in the hole. This is a classic example of going on tilt but you’re not on tilt because you’re pissed off about a bad beat. You’re on tilt because you’re bored, frustrated, and discouraged and this is a major leak.

If you get lucky and win this hand, too. You’ll think you were patient and restrained in your play when in reality, you overplayed a speculative hand and got lucky. To prevent this leak one step is to play a lot more. Patience comes from lots of time spent at the tables. Another step is to make sure you’re properly bankrolled. If you only have one or two buy-ins at this level, you don’t have enough money.

4. Bluffing Too Often

Bluffing Poker
Bluffing Too Often

Suppose you’re in the same situation as above but you still haven’t caught any cards. You haven’t been paying much attention, so you don’t know what percentage of the hands are going to the showdown. But you know that the big pros bluff, so you decide to try just buying some pots by being super-aggressive.

Unfortunately, one of the players on your left hasn’t been paying attention, either. He hasn’t noticed that you’ve folded literally every hand you’ve gotten for the past hour. So when you raise into him, he calls your raise with his pocket 4s. Since you were running a naked bluff with nothing more than unsuited trash, you’re in big trouble. Even if you get a favorable flop, chances are good that you’re playing with the second-best hand. Also, these guys aren’t going to fold on the flop, either or on the turn, or on the river. Don’t bluff in these extremely lose low-limit Texas hold ’em games. Bluffing only works if there’s a possibility that your opponents will fold.

Chances of bluffing is tiny

In fact, most players bluff too often anyway and unless you can narrow the competition down to one or two opponents, your chances of successfully bluffing and taking down a pot are tiny.

Thus imagine that if four people are in the pot, and each of them is 50% likely to fold in the case of any aggression, s the probability that you’ll win the pot with an outright bluff is 50% x 50% x 50% x 50% = 6.25%. You have just a one in 16 chance of taking the pot down with an outright bluff here and that’s an optimistic scenario, too, especially at the low-limit tables. Most players at that level are much less likely to fold than that.

On the other hand, if you have a drawing hand, it can make sense to “semi-bluff.” This means you’re betting with a hand that probably isn’t in the lead. But it could still win in a later round. Good examples of hands to semi-bluff with are flush draws an outside straight draws. Not only do you get equity because of the potential folds, but you also have equity based on your probability of filling your hand. Semi-bluffing is always superior to straight bluffing in Texas hold’em, regardless of your skill level or the stakes.

5. Overplaying Pocket Pairs When There Are Overcards on the Flop

Overplaying Pocket Pairs When There Are Overcards on the Flop
Overplaying Pocket Pairs When There Are Overcards on the Flop

If you’re dealt a pair of 9s preflop in this low-limit game of Texas hold ’em and then the flop comes, and there’s an ace and a queen showing. The other card is a blank. Even with a rainbow flop – where all the cards are different suits – you’re at a huge disadvantage.

But if some player is holding an ace or a queen in the hole. Those cards almost have to be out there somewhere. Even if they don’t, someone might have a king and a jack in the hole, which gives them a straight draw (four outs).

Your pair can’t win unless it improves. Since there are only two 9s left in the deck, you’re almost certainly not going to get the kind of pot odds you need to justify staying in the hand. But you’d be surprised at how many bored, discouraged players will take this hand too far. Even that theoretical opponent with the inside straight draw has four outs compared to your two outs. That means he’s twice as likely to fill his hand as you are to improve. Also if you have multiple opponents – which you usually will in this type of game – you’ll be at a huge disadvantage.

6. Being Unwilling to Slow Down on the Turn and/or the River

Being Unwilling to Slow Down on the Turn and/or the River
Being Unwilling to Slow Down on the Turn and/or the River

The change in the size of bets between the first two rounds of betting and the second two rounds is a huge factor in how you should play. If you’re new to limit hold ’em, you might not understand this entirely. At a $4/$8 table, the bets are $4 preflop and $4 on the flop. On the turn and the river, the bets are in increments of $8. You have five of your seven cards on the flop, though. That’s the bulk (71.43%) of the hand. So betting on the flop can make a lot of sense. Betting on the turn and the river is a great idea if you think you have the best hand. But calling bets and raises during these rounds is a lot more questionable because of the change in the size of the bets.

One strategy David Sklansky writes about in The Theory of Poker is “the free card “ where the idea is that you bet strongly on the flop. When the turn comes, if your opponent thinks you have a strong hand, he’ll often just check. When he does, you can check too and see the river for free. But if you didn’t bet on the flop, he’s more likely to bet or raise on the turn. Since the bets are twice as large, you’re missing out on what would otherwise have been a free card.

7. Ignoring Position

Poker leaks and fixes
Ignoring Position

When you’re in an early position preflop, you should only be playing premium hands – like big pairs, or A-K, A-Q, or K-Q suited. If you’re playing in a really loose, passive game, you might play some of the smaller pairs. They’re easy to get away from on the flop if you don’t hit. Also in a loose passive game, you’re less likely to get raised from the players behind you.

On the other hand, if you play too tight from a late position, you’re losing money, too. Even the most speculative hands become playable from a late position. Sure, you don’t want to play junk just because you’re the last player to act. But you still want to loosen up significantly here. Even some of the smaller suited connectors, or some of the suited connectors with gaps in them, become significantly more powerful from a late position.

One reason for this is that you can estimate with some accuracy how many opponents you’ll have in the later rounds. If there’s a raise and a re-raise in front of you, and everyone else has folded, playing 7-8 suited makes no sense. You won’t make much money even if you hit your hand. On the other hand, if you have five limpers in the pot with you, 7-8 suited will pay off really nicely on the rare occasions when you hit.

Finally, remember that the money you save by avoiding mistakes at the Texas Holdem table is worth the same amount of money as the money you win when getting lucky and it’s a lot easier to avoid mistakes and play smart and make wins while playing this game.

About the author

Kamal Kaur