So we all hate making mistakes... in Poker when you have a good plan and tactic to do well and then you have one of those facepalm moments and think back "why did i make that mistake?" it is bad of course that you made the error but good that you can try and learn from it.


You might be making many different mistakes or keep making the same one.


For me the mistake I seem to make more often than any other and one that costs me more buy-ins or pottential cashes is not believing my opponent.


In any given situation, we want to be dominating. More often than not if you play a good TAG style you are either dominating in one of two ways...

1) You are a tight but strong aggressive raiser so even if your hand isnt the best, your opponents, assuming they dont have the best of it can easily assume you do. That way when you come in with AK and hit nothing on the flop, C-bet it and your opponent assumes you had QQs or something made from the flop and since all he has is Ax, he believes you because he has seen your range and its easy to see you with something good there

2) You have the best or one of the best hands... nothing more simple than that


So in any of those situations you are dominating your opponent but unless you know for sure you have the nuts, you could be beat and not even know it.


So what information can you gather that lets you know how far ahead/behind you are?

Answer : Your opponents betting


If you come into a flop with AdKs and the board is As Kc 3c - you are dominating here but you don't have the nuts. The nuts here would be Trip 3's or even someone with AA or KK for trips there as well (although a lot more unlikely) and there is a draw to a flush that you don't have a piece of. Most of the time with this hand you are way ahead but you could be beat already.

If you are out of position in this spot and bet it well, one of five things will happen.

1) Your opponent will fold, you had the best hand

2) Your opponent will call, you have the best hand now... you will have to judge if this holds up on the Turn

3) Your opponent will call, they have the best hand, say trip 3s and are trapping you

4) Your opponent will raise, they have the worst hand but are bluffing you

5) Your opponent will raise you, they have the best hand


If your opp folds, job is over - onto the next hand

If your opp calls it could either be a 2 or 3. In most cases it will be 2... although trapping is a possibility its not as common as watching WSOP makes out and the turn will allow you to assess better anyways.

If your opp raises, it could either be 4 or 5. This is where i suffer my problems.

I tend not to believe my opponent in spots like this and will either call them or worse still, go over the top of them. Now, with this board chances are that AK is very good but if my opponent bets strong into me they are basically saying "I have trips" .

Don't get me wrong, some of the time opp's will bluff you with this to get you off your hand but most of the time, practically so much most its almost all of the time, they have the hand.

Don't forget, whilst an opp might bluff you, its a risk on their part. They are commiting a good chunk of chips into trying to represent something they don't have. To them as well, if they are bluffing they could be saying "I have AK" or "I have a pair of Aces" since they have no idea what you have to you it might sound like they are saying "I have trips" but to someone else in the hand who could just have say a King they are instead saying "I have Aces or better"

A bluff is very powerful for the suggestion it can put out there... unless you have the nuts, where you can see your opponent HAS to be bluffing, any hand that beats you is pottentially their hand and they are telling you they have it.


You can look at beating a bluff if you like. Take a look at what the odds are that you are ahead, what odds are your opponent is ahead and possibly what the ROI is for going broke to collect the pot there. Also you could take any previous read on the opp, such as them being loose or keen to bluff into account.


This is the fun part of poker... because in a spot like this you beat a LOT of hands and only SOME hands beat you... Challenging your opponent here is quite viable since AK is VERY strong in this spot.


Where you will become unstuck and where "I" become unstuck is when you don't dominate.

The same flop As Kc 3c and you come in with KQ.

In this spot you aren't dominating, any Ace-Rag has you beat already not to mention AK or even A3. You have outs to improve but thats not really the thought you need to have in your head.

In this spot you could either check/fold to see where you are or if you want to bet it... either way if you get played at in this spot, bluff or not you need to fold.


I went out 5th at a FT with 40BB because i played a stupid move.

I went for a steal with K8h against the Chip Leader. He called me and flop came with no overs and my King was top pair.

I bet it strong, he comes over the top of me.

For some reason here I decided to put my opp on something other than a hand that beats me. Its a total fish thing to do and I am basically convincing myself I have a better hand than I do.

My kicker is rubbish and any King with a better kicker has me here. Not to mention a possible two pair or trips.

I had no reason to risk my 40BB in challenging this bluff, let alone against someone who has me covered.


What did I do? I went over the top of him!

He then shoves me all in.... surely if i didnt believe him before, with him putting most of his stack (around 80-90%) in there I need to believe him now?? right??


Wrong... i convinced myself at the first time I raised him that my King was good and I was blind to the possibility it wasn't

I called his all in, he shows me a pair of 4s making him a set of 4s with the one on the board.


I knocked myself out in 5th place in a spot i really didn't need to because i convinced myself my opponent was bluffing and I had a beter hand.


My friend watching screamed at me telling me it was a completely stupid move. He was expecting two pair at least but for me to go at him with Top pair, weak kicker just shocked him.


It all came down to the same thing I am posting about.... believing your opponent.


People will bluff... lord knows they will bluff. But the fact is they do it a lot less than you think and rarely in spots where they are throwing their entire stack into the pot to sell their bluff to you.

In a spot where you are dominating, challenging the bet can be OK. Its still a gamble since without the nuts you could still be beat but if you have a really good hand, its less of a risk.

In a spot where you have a good hand but are not dominating, you need to pay attention to the only piece of information we get in Online Poker - the bet.

If you bet them and they call... chances are you are ahead

If you bet them and they raise... chances are you are behind

If they are first to act and they check... chances are you are ahead

If they are first to act and they bet... It is more likely to be a bluff here than if they raised your bet, but still a good chance you could be behind, the only way to know for sure would be to re-raise them and anything other than a fold and you need to consider yourself behind


In any round of betting... if you aren't leading your opponent and don't have the nuts or a seriously dominating hand, chances are you are behind


I say these things to both remind myself of how stupid I can be and to not do it again and as well try to impart some wisdom to others.


So next time you are the table and someone shoves at you or puts you to a decision for a great deal of your chips and you aren't getting the best of it, chances are you are beat - if you can lay it down here often enough, you will save yourself a lot of grief and KO's