At the highest level, Texas Holdem is a game of mathematical skill, intense deliberation and expert psychology. Novice and amateur level players often have many misconceptions about what it takes to take the game on a professional level. We’ll cover five of the most common fallacies about Texas Holdem.
I beat all of my friends – I’m ready for Vegas!
No, you’re not. Home poker games are nothing like Las Vegas. The transition is comparable to pitting an unbeaten high school basketball team against the Harlem Globe Trotters.
The fastest way to give up on your dream of going pro is take on the big boys before you’re ready. Many players who make this mistake will come back so utterly defeated that they simply give up.
The better option is to work your way up by playing low stakes at a small/local casino, or at an online poker room. Which brings us to our next topic…
I inherited $10k from Granny, I can play high stakes now!
No, you can’t. Transitioning from the lowest stakes to higher levels is a slow, progressive maturation that should be handled very carefully. Just because you win low stakes consistently and have a large bankroll does not mean you are ready for high stakes action.
The level of play at high stakes is far superior to that of low limit games. Likewise, it takes a whole different skillset to beat players of that magnitude. Stakes should only be increased one level at a time, and only if you’re winning the previous stakes consistently.
The pros always win!
Professional poker players do have a higher win rate, but they aren’t static winners. Remember that high stakes thing we just talked about? Even the best pros won’t win all the time. Poker is a game of upswings and downswings for everyone, especially at the highest levels.
Erik Seidel is a perfect example. He’s a Hall of Fame poker player with over $25 million in tournament winnings under his belt, but he’s also experienced one of the longest downswings of any poker pro. In 1988, he finished 2nd to Johnny Chan in the WSOP Main Event for $280k, then scored $144k in the Jim Dandy by finishing 1st over Phil Hellmuth. But over the next 16 months, he failed to cash in a single live tournament.
Bluffing is bad for your game.
No, it’s not. Bluffing is an essential part of Texas Holdem. The key is to find that perfect median – not too often, but not too little. A consistent bluffer will soon be labeled as such, and won’t be able to get away with it anymore, whereas bluffing too little will result in missed opportunities.
In short, there’s no such thing as a great poker player who doesn’t bluff.
Mastering the bluff isn’t easy because the frequency of which you should bluff will change with each new situation. When facing rocks, or playing in a tournament, a player should generally bluff more often, while playing a loose table requires a tighter game with less bluffing.
I’m too old for this!
If you think you’re too old to play Texas Holdem—that young players have a distinct advantage—you’re wrong. Unless you’re ability to calculate odds has been depleted by age, or you have short-term memory issues, there’s no reason you can’t be a great poker player.
Look at William Wachter. He’s not even a poker pro, but at 94 years of age, he entered this year’s WSOP, outlasting nearly 6,000 players to finish in 524th and earning $19,400. What about the legendary Doyle Brunson, or 75 year old T. J. Cloutier, who added 13 more cashes this year already to his current career total of 347?
Even the 2015 WSOP Main Event’s November Nine is playing host to a pair of seniors, 72 year old Pierre Neuville and 61 year old Neil Blumenfield. Suffice to say, age has nothing to do with one’s ability to play and win at Texas Holdem.