Poker Leaks and How to Fix Them

Poker Leaks Hurting Your Bankroll?

Nobody is perfect. This is a universal truth for the real world and poker world. Poker is a complex game that requires a wide range of skills. You are unlikely to be proficient in all of them. Perhaps your strengths mask your weaknesses. Or maybe you’re playing games that are soft enough that your poker leaks are not costing you lots of money. Either way, you have leaks in your poker game whether you want to admit it or not. This article will look at common poker leaks and potential solutions to help. Whilst you won’t ever be perfect, you can strive for it still.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a Poker Leak?

A leak is a part of a poker players game that they are particularly weak in. It leads to them consistently making errors that will cost them money in the long run.

Leak – Not Value Betting Thin Enough

This leak is more common than you imagine. Think of it this way, every time you check back a hand on the river which beats your opponent, you’ve allowed the worse hand a free showdown. Realistically, we can’t expect to value bet correctly 100% of the time but the point still stands. Think of your last session. How many times did you check back the best hand on the river? Expert players are experts because they realise the times when their hand is likely to be best and will try to extract value from it.

Solution – Make Small Value Bets on the River

The problem a lot of players make is wrongly assuming they don’t want to bet in case they get check-raised. Look, if your opponent is strong enough to check raise bluff the river, then kudos to him. That’s no reason to check back. In scenarios where you think you probably have best hand, throw out a 20% value bet. As you gain experience and find yourself getting paid off by weaker hands you will begin to take your game to the next level and identify when you can value bet more even when it’s for thin value.

Leak – Calling Small 3 Bets Out of Position

Flat calling a small 3 bet out of position is one of the most common poker leaks players come to me with. They justify it by saying “I had odds” or “I won’t overplay post flop”. Either way, it’s a big poker leak that will hurt your bankroll in the long run. The scenario typically goes like this:

With blinds at $1/$2 in a full ring game, you make it $6 with Ks 9s from middle position, the cut-off (a strong regular) makes it $15 to go and action falls back on you.

This is one of them spots where you have a hand of value that you want to play but the context has now changed. You no longer have the aggression, are out of position against a strong opponent and likely to have the weaker hand.

Solution – Don’t be afraid to Fold

Most players continue here because they don’t want to appear weak or timid and end up flatting more than they should. Don’t be that player! Fold and move on to the next hand. Naturally, there are some hands where it’s profitable to call the 3 bet but often the ingredients are not there.

Every decision in poker can be converted to represent the long run. In the example with Ks 9s, you are spending an additional $9 before the flop. Disregarding what can be lost on the flop, turn and river for a moment, we can assume you will probably win the pot 1 in 4? That means you are losing this pot 75% of the time. If this scenario or a similar one happens 4 times a month on average, you are losing $324 per year from this leak alone. You can do a lot of things with $324!

Leak – Open Limping Before the Flop

It’s staggering that there are still so many players adopting a limp in style of poker. It doesn’t work. You will find yourself getting bullied around and losing lots of big blinds by limp/calling or limp/folding. Players that open call before the flop usually do so to try and hit big on the flop. The truth is, you will only pair up one in three and even than you can’t assume your hand is best. This passive style of poker just doesn’t work. Have a look at our limp in poker article if you want a detailed analysis of why this style is bad.

Solution – Play Less Hands But More Aggressively

Instead of trying to limp with hands and hit your monster hand, play fewer hands but aggressively. This will mean you will win more pots before and after the flop and also earn more money when you do hit. It’s well established that a tight aggressive poker style can win money at low stakes and up.
Have you noticed the players that play fewer hands seem to be raising and winning the pots that they do contest? They usually have the positional advantage and mathematical advantage too.

Leak – Playing Too Many Hands

It’s irrelevant if you’re raising or not. If you are playing too many hands at 6 max or full ring poker, you are going to be spewing and leaking money all over the place. It’s practically impossible to play too many hands in heads up format but in the more popular 6 max and full ring games, you will get punished for open raising too much. You will find yourself getting 3 bet, playing against opponents with better cards and be out of position too often to expect to overcome this leak. No amount of skill post flop will counter act the fact you are playing poor cards. Other poker sites like BeastsOfPoker will attest to this too.

Solution – Slow down, Focus on Situation and Position

Poker rewards patient players in the long run. I am not advocating playing a nit style of poker but you need to pick your moments. You can afford to play a wider range of hands in the later positions, but if you’re opening hands like ace rag from under the gun, you’re in trouble. Slow down the aggression and you will find you get will get 3 bet less, face less resistance and will have a higher continuation bet success rate too.

Final Thoughts

This article has focused on 4 common poker leaks. There are loads more that may be appropriate to you, including poor bankroll management, no table selection, tilting, playing when tired and not bluffing enough. If you are a small winner or worse and would like to find out your leaks and resolve them, feel free to contact us at pokermentor@texasholdemquestions.com . We will help identify areas of your game that need working on and offer practical, timely advice to help fix your poker leaks.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d like to read our article on “how to handle running bad” or “dealing with bad beats“.

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