4 Poker Myths that are Costing you Money

There’s a lot of superstition in poker.  A quick search in any forum will turn up posts like:

I always lose with pocket Queens.

Or

I never win on site X.

 These myths are obviously ridiculous and smart players will dismiss them as losing players making excuses for why they lose.  But there are some poker myths that even winning players believe.  Here are four poker myths that could be costing you money.

Don’t Bluff Multi-way Pots

The logic seems sound enough.  The more players there are in a pot, the harder it is to get them all to fold.  But there’s a problem with this advice.

Most players will give a lot of credit to a bet in a multi-way pot.

If you’re cultivating a tight image and find yourself in the right situation, you can win a decent multi-way pot with a modest bet.

I’m not suggesting that you bet every time you’re in a multi-way pot, but learning how to bluff multi-way pots can be very profitable.

Super-tight is Super Right

I blame Phil Hellmuth for this one.  In his book Play Poker Like The Pros, Hellmuth said that if tight is right, then super-tight must be super right.  Hellmuth suggests playing only the top 10% of hands.

While this advice may have been good 4 or 5 years ago, it’s not that great today.  Players following Hellmuth’s advice will get very little action on their hands and when they do get action, they’ll usually be facing a hand that has an overpair crushed.

Even low limit players are savvy these days.  You have to mix your game up some or the online regulars will tear you to pieces.

You Gotta Make Big Bluffs To Win

I’d blame Tom ‘Durrrr’ Dwan for this one except the “big bluff” myth was thriving long before Dwan placed his first bet.

It’s true that you have to bluff with a certain frequency to maximize your win rate.  Ed Miller and David Sklansky have been big proponents of using a theoretically optimal bluffing frequency for a long time, however most players bluff too frequently.

The majority of your bets should be value bets.  You should add just enough bluffs in your range so that your opponent cannot profitably call your bet either way.  For more information on theoretically optimal bluffing frequency, see The Theory of Poker or No Limit Hold’em Theory and Practice.

Bet Small With Monsters To Extract Value

I see this all the time in cash games.  Someone has a monster hand and they bet small to keep their opponent in the pot.  These players should be trying their damnedest to get all their money in the middle.

A lot of players think they’re being deceptive by betting small with their big hands.  That’s not how you use deception.  You should be betting your small hands and bluff big occasionally to disguise the times that you really do have a big hand.

So how do you build a pot?  You do it by betting big and overbetting the pot occasionally.

Still not convinced?  Consider this example:

You’re in a 1/2 game with JT.  The pot is $95 and you have been the aggressor throughout the hand betting every street so far.  The river just came down and it’s the Ten of diamonds.  Here’s the board:

JT26T with three diamonds on the board.  You think your opponent would have either called on the flop and turn with a strong Jack or the flush draw (which he just made).  You have $135 left and your opponent has you covered.  Do you bet $65 for value or shove all-in?

Let’s say you get called 80% of the time when you bet $65 and only 40% of the time when you shove for $135.  You still make more money by shoving.

EV Betting $65   = $52

EV Betting $135 = $54

That’s an extra $2 in EV even though your opponent will only call half as often.

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There are a lot of myths in poker and the most dangerous ones are very believable.  Changing your beliefs about the four myths above will certainly make you a better poker player.

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