5 Costly Mistakes of Playing Scared Poker

Do you find yourself playing scared at the poker table? Most of us poker players have found ourselves playing overly cautious, or not making the correct play out of fear that it won't work, from time-to-time.

Playing scared occurs frequently in No Limit Hold'em cash games and tournaments. It's easy to second-guess your hand or over think your opponents' play. It's also easy to remember that, at any moment you could lose every dollar in front of you, or be knocked out of the tournament, because of one poor play.

But when you play scared, you make big mistakes that end up losing you more money in the long run. This article will show you the five biggest and most costly mistakes that scared poker players make. As a bonus to help you overcome playing scared, five tips to increase your confidence at the poker table are also included.

You might be playing scared if:

  1. You don't protect your hand

    By playing scared you are less likely to bet your weaker made hands, like top pair good kicker, enough and risk being outdrawn more. You will lose less when you are outdrawn, but will be outdrawn more and win less when they miss.

  2. You don't value bet enough

    Although value betting is one of the most important skills in poker, I've caught myself doing this from time to time. You bet less or don't bet at all on the river because you are content with winning the pot. You may also not want to risk committing more to the pot and being beaten.

    I've even seen a few players with monster hands not bet the river. When you ask them why they didn't bet their quads (or other huge hand), they say something like "he wouldn't have called anyway". That is a poor way to think about it, since almost anyone would call $5 dollars into a $100 pot, if only out of curiosity. When you think you have the best hand on the river, you should bet an amount that will give you the most value when it's called.

  3. You play too tight preflop

    When you are playing with scared money, you may be reluctant to enter a pot without a strong holding. You sacrifice many opportunities to make extra profits.

  4. You don't call enough

    If your opponents realize that you are playing scared and will not call big bets without a very strong hand, they will capitalize on this by bluffing you more.

  5. You don't bluff enough

    Contrary to what many amateurs believe, bluffing is very overrated. But if you never bluff, you'll become a very predictable player to observant opponents. Especially in No Limit Hold'em, there are times when you are almost certain a bluff will win the pot. Failing to take advantage of these small wins will add up over time.

5 confidence boosting poker tips

  1. Get lots of experience

    It may sound obvious, but the more you play, the less sensitive you will be to the amount you are winning or losing. Online poker is not only the best way to get started building a bankroll, it also allows you to play multiple tables and as many as 100-1000 hands per hour. You can also start with limits like .01/.02 and move up as your confidence increases.

  2. Play within your bankroll

    When your bankroll is $500, a loss of $200 is a lot. On the other hand, if your bankroll is $3000, that same $200 won't hurt as bad.

  3. Separate your bankroll

    If you haven't done this already, you need to today. If you want to learn how to make money gambling, I'll tell you that having a bankroll (just for poker) is a major part of the winning formula. You should have a bankroll that is separate from household money. You become a lot less sensitive to the ups and downs of poker, and play more confidently, when you are not depending on the money for rent or other necessities.

  4. Give yourself a pat on the back once in a while

    Make sure to congratulate yourself when you start instinctively picking off bluffs, making great lay downs, and making that perfect value bet. Knowing that you knew the right thing to do, and then pulled it off, will do wonders for your confidence.

  5. Study, study, study

    I know you thought learning was over after high school. But poker is not something you master overnight. The more knowledgeable you are about the mathematics of poker including odds and probabilities, poker psychology, and general poker strategy, the more confident you will become overall.

The bottom line is, the more confident and aggressive players will make more money over time, while timid and passive players will eventually have their bankrolls eaten away by the sharks. Quit playing scared by learning more, playing more, and practicing proper money management. Otherwise, you will never succeed long term as a poker player.


We have prepared a number of articles to help you play the games better. Regarding poker, we have an article about Poker tournament tips which will put you in the right direction if you play in the world series of poker or any other tournament. For example one tough situation is when you need to be playing with a short stack in a tournament and knowing the correct strategy will certainly help. Scared Poker mistakes shows errors that maany beginners make. Poker Variations explains the various poker formats while poker tells explains one of the crucial weapon of poker, reading poker tells.

We also have room reviews such as the PokerStars review, the Full Tilt review, the Bodog Poker review and the top five online poker rooms. These three online poker rooms are our top recommended rooms

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