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StrategyNo Limit Midstack

Short Stack Strategy: Beginner's mistakes


In this Article
  • The typical mistakes beginners make
  • How to avoid these mistakes

Poker is not a simple game. Ask any professional player who just lost a big pot. Not only is it challenging but you're also new to the game. As a beginner you shouldn't be surprised to find yourself making mistakes. This article will introduce you to the typical mistakes many beginners make and show you how to avoid them.

Read this article carefully and ask yourself if you've made any of the mistakes that are mentioned. Doing so will help you recognise your own weaknesses and develop as a poker player.

Video: Short Stack Strategy - Typical Beginner Mistakes
Watch Video

You can also watch the content of this article in video format. Simply click the picture to open the video.

You should still read the article to ensure that you have completely understood the strategy. Your bankroll will be grateful.

Mistake #1: Poor bankroll management

Whether greed or curiosity, some players can't resist playing in limits beyond their budget. Your bankroll is what allows you to play poker. Manage it conservatively and don't put it and your poker career at risk. You should always have enough to survive a downswing, because you have plenty of those ahead of you.

Remind yourself that it is not possible to always win at poker. Regardless of how well you play, you will hit downswings and lose money continuously over a period of time. And as a beginner you are bound to make mistakes and lose money. In order to get through the downswings and 'afford' the mistakes you make, it is critical for you to manage your bankroll effectively.

You can find Pokerstrategy.com articles on effective bankroll management. You should read these and stick to the strategy to avoid going bankrupt before your poker career has even begun.

Mistake #2: Tilt

Your opponent made his straight on the river and beat your three-of-a-kind. A few hands later, another opponent makes a flush with the turn and river cards and your aces are busted. Murphy's Law in poker?

Every poker player has been in these situations. A series of bad beats is enough to make almost any poker player lose his cool and change his playing style, which is when things usually go from bad to worse. This psychological condition is called 'tilt'. You can also be on tilt if you start to feel unbeatable after winning a few pots. The most important thing is to keep your cool, regardless of how the hand ends. In this way you'll be able to play well in the next hand.

Some players start playing very aggressively and throw their chips away when on tilt, while others quit playing altogether and fold every hand, since they figure their luck won't let them win anyway. In either case, the player isn't delivering his best game and this is costing him money.

As soon as you catch yourself going on tilt, it's time to take a break. If you know you're not playing as well as you should be, cut your losses and call it a day.

Tilt is one of the greatest dangers a poker player can face. A downswing will hurt your bankroll, but playing on tilt will devastate it. There is some good news though. Tilt is also one of the dangers a player can control. As soon as you catch yourself going on tilt and making dangerous moves, you can leave the table and return when you are ready to play your game.

Mistake #3: Fear

You have to respect your opponent in order to beat him at poker, but you can't fear him. If you overestimate your opponent, you will end up folding too often and it will be hard for you to avoid losing money, let alone turn a profit.

There was an extreme example of a player doing this in the forum recently. A player wrote that he folded JJ from the button position, because an unknown player had limped in UTG. He reasoned that his opponent probably had AA, which of course was very unlikely given that he had limped in from early position.

You might think this example is a little bit ridiculous, but it shows how fear can lead to poor decisions. Don't start assuming your opponent always has a better hand because you think he is a good player. A raise doesn't always mean your opponent has a monster hand, there are a number of other reasons an opponent might raise.

There is always an element of luck in every poker hand, which means you are inevitably going to lose money from time to time. Don't let this intimidate you though. If you don't continue to play and risk losing money, you won't be able to make money in the long run either.

Mistake #4: Taking the game personally

Never take poker, or what happens between you and your opponents, personally. Not even if you have just been beaten by the same player for the 5th time on the river. If you start thinking about revenge, you will make mistakes and end up on tilt. This is exactly what your opponent wants you to do.

This type of behaviour is irrational and often proves to be very expensive. You will probably never meet this person in real life and may never see him at a poker table again either. So you don't need to prove anything to him, to yourself or to the rest of the table.

Mistake #5: Playing too many tables

"The more tables I play, the more I can win." - Don't let these be your last words.

This would be true if it were possible. As a beginner, you don't have enough experience to make the right decisions at 12 tables simultaneously.

You should only play as many tables as you can concentrate on at once. You need time, especially as a poker beginner, to think about the decisions you have to make. On the other hand, the more tables you play well at, the more you can win. If you start getting bored, you can of course consider opening another table. Just remember that your win rate per table is much more important than the number of tables you're playing at.

Mistake #6: Playing too many starting hands

Maybe, having watched poker on TV and seeing professional players' having success with mediocre hands, you start wondering why you should fold such hands.

Maybe, the button has made several rounds and you haven't had a playable hand yet. You might see opponents making straights with bad hands (like 63o), and you start considering whether you should just start playing with any two cards to see what happens.

There are a number of things that can get to your nerves and tempt you to stop using the Starting Hands Chart (SHC).

This is exactly what you shouldn't do.

There are a number of ways to play NL Hold'em successfully. Pokerstrategy.com teaches you to be a tight, aggressive player, meaning you only play a small number of hands but very aggressively. This is an easy to learn strategy that leads to success, as long as you stick to it. Playing hands not found in the SHC will lead to unprofitable situations and you will lose money in the long run.

The Starting Hands Chart is the bread and butter of the Short Stack Strategy.

It is very easy to avoid playing too many starting hands. Using the Starting Hands Chart found in the 'pre-flop play' article ensures that you will only play hands that tend to be profitable.

Mistake #7: Thinking you know better

Reading these articles won't make you a good poker player. You have to think along and ask questions when you find something you don't understand or that doesn't quite make sense. You have to take the initiative and learn as much as you possibly can.

This gives some people the wrong idea. They begin doubting the wisdom found in the Pokerstrategy articles and try to come up with their own theories. This is a waste of time and trying them out is a waste of money.

The learning material provided by Pokerstrategy.com was written by experienced professionals who started their own careers on $50 or less. This doesn't mean you should blindly follow everything they say, but why try to re-invent the wheel?

Pokerstrategy.com gives you a decisive advantage over other poker player beginners. While they aren't quite sure what to do with a hand like AK, you follow an intelligent strategy and this automatically makes your game better than theirs.

If you find something you don't understand or that doesn't quite make sense, take a look at the discussion forum or ask a question at a live coaching session.

Mistake #8: Not being able to lay down a good hand

Let's assume you raised pre-flop with AKo. The flop doesn't show an ace or a king, but you correctly make a continuation bet. Then your opponent raises. Now you have a problem: most beginners will call in this situation, which is absolutely wrong. It's too unlikely that an ace or a king will come, which means making a call in this situation results in lost money in the long run. Still, many beginners can't fold a good starting hand that doesn't hit on the flop.

Sometimes a player doesn't want to give up on the money he has already put into the pot. This is irrational thinking, of course, because once you put your money into the pot, it isn't yours anymore. The only money you have is the money in front of you and there is no reason to invest that in such a situation.

How can you avoid these mistakes?


If you have read all the articles and are still losing money, you should probably re-read them more intensely. Reading the articles won't get you far, but understanding the knowledge found in them will.

You may think you are an attentive reader and have gathered all the information found in the articles. Read them again to make sure.

Use the discussion forum to talk to other players, ask questions and share experiences. You'll be surprised at how often you remember these discussions in later games.


Pokerstrategy.com offers a number of supplementary learning materials. Each day you can go to a coaching session and watch professionals play in limits that they mastered long ago. You can ask them questions and learn a lot about playing different limits.

Videos are a lot like coaching sessions, except you can't ask questions. The advantage is you can rewind and spend more time on individual situations.

Once you've reached a certain limit, you might want to try a private coach. An experienced player will watch you play and try to find your weaknesses and better them.


If you're not sure if you played a hand right, you can discuss it in the forum. There is a special section just for evaluating hands which can be very valuable to a poker student. In the sample hand forum you can see real hands analysed by professionals.

All of these learning materials, except for private coaching, are available for free.


You can expect to make mistakes as a beginner in poker. There are a number of typical beginner mistakes listed in this article, however, by following our guidelines you can easily avoid them.

In doing so, you will be a step ahead of the other beginners. In order to move up from beginner's level, you need to work hard at your game. Take advantage of all the learning material provided by Pokerstrategy.com. You will find that there are also a number of people willing to give you their advice and answer your questions.


Comments (86)

#1 chrkultyp, 16 Mar 08 00:58

what can i say its like looking in a mirror nice article

#2 elmx, 20 Mar 08 11:59

yes i need more to learn!! :)

#3 allinbaby75, 24 Mar 08 08:06

learn something new everyday

#4 jere007, 13 Apr 08 17:25

Your strategy articles are incredible! Just keep up the good work!

#5 Tradewind4, 05 May 08 05:26

How do I get to the next rank?

#6 konnos, 29 May 08 17:22

amazing articles learns lot's thanks :)

#7 cengocengo, 09 Jun 08 15:53


#8 zarovicious, 03 Jul 08 11:33

thanx from Brasil!

#9 PedroBurla, 16 Jul 08 16:29

Thats a great article.
Based on these articles and some books I am reading, I already doubled up my initial bankroll.
Thanks POkerStrategy!

#10 Wildkiwi, 23 Jul 08 23:20

Another excellent article from the best poker instruction site on the net.

#11 anti5ive, 24 Jul 08 11:21

only joined yesterday very impressed stll a lot to read yet

#12 Erec86, 30 Jul 08 14:10

Found this article very helping for my playing style

#13 KingJon, 23 Aug 08 23:16

Excellent artilcle covering points usually taken for granted.

#14 PaulRough, 28 Aug 08 10:55

thanks from Czech Republic :)

#15 poke76, 06 Sep 08 01:28

very good advice

#16 PokerKaizer, 07 Sep 08 06:45

Very useful advise. There is no greater poker strategy site that I've seen.

#17 mouse89, 05 Oct 08 14:59


#18 Doujinshi, 20 Oct 08 19:15

glad to see im not the only one making those mistakes :)

#19 Mistyboyo, 19 Nov 08 22:29

Well I guess we all need to learn continually.....Good luck everyone!

#20 AmericanRocket, 26 Nov 08 00:03

Yeah, just good luck @ the tables and pokerstrategy's topics ! :)

#21 Edgars86, 03 Jan 09 21:32

Good article!

#22 janissilapriede, 04 Jan 09 16:27

#7 is the hardest for me...

#23 gheecko, 08 Jan 09 23:39

very nice articles

#24 mark112, 21 Jan 09 17:37

useful, thanks

#25 looserbaby79, 22 Jan 09 20:17

thanks from Slovakia very useful

#26 jannik1990, 24 Jan 09 19:31


#27 boges1, 01 Feb 09 20:38

This bewtie's a little ripper - from oz

#28 rsoomer, 03 Feb 09 11:14

Very helpful

#29 SaymonMD, 10 Feb 09 15:55

thx for the article

#30 willy1229, 16 Feb 09 03:56


#31 hyaenodon, 20 Feb 09 14:45

Thanks for the great tutorials! I find them extremely useful, like most people.

#32 nguyenminh1962, 27 Feb 09 14:55

Thanks for article

#33 themagpiespg, 02 Mar 09 02:36

Hi having read several of these articles I can now see where I've being going wrong 1 my bank roll management sucked and I was also playing way to many starting hands, I've managed to plug several holes in my game thanks to this site.

#34 sb2828sb, 04 Mar 09 17:33

really helpful! Thanks a lot.

#35 szni, 08 Mar 09 23:53


#36 darrhhh, 17 Mar 09 08:34

very nice, i like :)

#37 DevilChess, 21 Mar 09 11:19

I played exactly as described here, no deviation from the text, for 3 hours at .05/.10 tables, played around 923 hands and lost 6.2 dollars.

That´s a 62 BB´s. If this style really is profitable, should not it tend to win with a high number of samples (923 hands, 102 blind rounds).

#38 only1kidney, 23 Mar 09 15:57

Sounds easy. Hope I can keep my heaad straight.

#39 Dati2009, 25 Mar 09 10:54

Great article!! Still lots to learn!!

#40 eddy1337, 25 Mar 09 18:52

nice :>

#41 luitzen, 04 Apr 09 11:34

I'm weak at point #6, #7 and #8. Won $10 yesterday and lost $2 early this morning by making these mistakes. Luckily I'm now back on track again.

#42 timouimet, 06 Apr 09 02:56

I can't believe I'm laying down AK, AQ, AJ -- I've never done this .. And now I'm winning...


#43 badmambajama, 14 Apr 09 04:41

I love this strategy

#44 csx5, 16 Apr 09 12:31

My weak point is #8 - now reading this article 2nd time :)

#45 MancaMulas, 26 Apr 09 15:49

This article is labeled "NEW!", but I have already read it about a month ago.

#46 DopeBuck, 24 May 09 07:54

fuk brazil

#47 SANDLOT, 13 Jun 09 03:04


#48 arthurhess, 08 Jul 09 01:42

i love you, PS! im addicted to these strategy articles! and it's free!



#49 BuddyMarto, 08 Jul 09 12:47

Very good article,thanks !

#50 danleespencer, 10 Jul 09 11:06

Thank-you. I recommend this site to everyone, even though i'd kind of like to keep it a secret!

#51 cameliajecan, 10 Jul 09 12:51

How can I get the nex rank?

#52 theboydave, 20 Jul 09 15:16

Good article. I think just by reading this it will set off the alarm bells if im about to make one of the 8 mistakes.

#53 Pokerdoggy, 20 Aug 09 08:41

Thank you poker strategy!!! I just passed the quiz and I'm lookin forward to receiving my starting capital!!! Thank you very much!!!

#54 Horrorgasm, 13 Sep 09 12:19

Nice little "reminder" article.

#55 chuthao, 29 Sep 09 03:55

im a new member, what should i do to read all that?

#56 Justin37, 07 Oct 09 00:32

TQ from Malaysia.

I ussually remind myself not to TiTL but it happen anyway!

Anyway, still on + figures.

#57 cardopot, 07 Oct 09 23:25


#58 kenshin79, 22 Oct 09 10:18

great poker lesson. Thanks

#59 jovanovics, 08 Nov 09 01:03


#60 Zaggamx, 28 Dec 09 09:00

nice article ...very inspired

#61 haikari, 30 Jan 10 13:13


#62 drslowhand, 01 Feb 10 14:57

really great work thx.

#63 SirPaulius, 03 Feb 10 22:07

looks like you were watching how i play :) good for me that lots of time i got lucky.

#64 alinseby, 24 Apr 10 11:23

verry good article;)

#65 arcnagett, 09 May 10 01:18

I've seen myself in many of those situations.. we should all pay close attention to this article..

#66 rammem, 04 Jun 10 10:20

It's very imortant have a good bankrol

#67 inczezoltan, 04 Jun 10 15:00

This is one of the best articles, I enjoyed reading it. Now I know a lot about my mistakes, and 100% it's easier to avoid them. Thanks for article!

#68 niechx, 20 Jun 10 01:42

yea , it's really helpful, thank you!

#69 noladets, 22 Jun 10 17:09

helped. Thanks!

#70 labrot, 22 Jun 10 17:22

i have never read anything about poker till now, this is worth article, Thanks :)

#71 Caja71, 01 Jul 10 07:26

very interesting topic...

#72 Simurgh83, 15 Aug 10 12:24

Tnx a lot for the help!

#73 Hali987, 08 Sep 10 23:47

nice and interesting topic, tnx

#75 TuanVuVn, 07 Nov 10 07:31

Why I can't read this ?

#76 duniapoker, 09 Feb 11 02:31

I think this article is not only for SSS. It is general mistakes whatever strategy you play.

#77 ElvisLV, 13 Mar 11 22:31

This is realy usefull
Thank you!

#78 confitemini, 17 Mar 11 14:33


#79 werall1, 21 Mar 11 04:56

awesome..needed that...

#80 TarmoK, 27 May 11 21:20

Good article, but not as easy to follow as it looks like.

Keep up the good work.

#81 barcelonadh, 05 Jun 11 17:53

nice, i like it

#82 lauminja13, 30 Aug 11 14:01

very usefull. i make a lot of mistakes. the worst thing is i know it but i can't stop myself so i made a notebook of my own and i have written down all the core information there. for me that is the best way of understanding the articles and tips.

#83 AltarEgo, 20 Apr 12 11:34

Cannot be stressed how important this article is as a maxim.

#84 deano908, 02 Oct 12 14:59

Great article! This is why i love poker stratergy and this is why my poker game has improved THANKYOU.

#85 IbrahimAmmar, 25 Nov 12 05:13

Good Article and its so true had a bankroll of 50$ as a beginner Had AQ Raised to 4 BB Opponent Called Me With a K7 Flop A 7 4 Rainbow Raised to 4 More BB He Called,Turn Q,Went All in He Called River Another 7 for him made his trips,I got tillted and lost all my bankroll and started to play loss,by reading this article il make sure it wont happen again.
Thanks PokerStrategy

#86 ivankv79, 17 Mar 13 10:10

thank u so much

#87 akxxiv, 25 Sep 13 03:02

very true article. thanks a lot