There is no such thing as the “perfect” poker player (although some players may think that they are because poker definitely builds on one’s ego). Everyone that sits down to play, whether they have been doing it for years and years or if they decided to finally give poker a shot, makes mistakes. Obviously with experience and seeing any and all situations related to poker, a player can make less mistakes than his opponent and can also be more conscience of what he/she is doing as well as what his/her opponent is trying to do as well.
One of the most common mistakes players make in tournament poker is that they overplay hands. What I mean by this is that players get stubborn with big hands and tend to spew off in spots vs weaker players (which is not terrible because these players will give you a chance to redeem yourself) or vs stronger players and it makes it more difficult to compete. The chips they used in those spots would come in to play when they find a better spot in the later stages of the tournament.
This day and age most tournaments played have deeper stacks and allow a player to maneuver a little more. If you are playing from behind with a below average stack, you tend to get called a little weaker than you would if you had an average or above average stack and your hands lose value which leaves you in coin flip situations a lot earlier in a tournament.
Let’s say you have an average stack a few levels in to a tournament and you open AK in early position and get called in 2 spots. The flop is 6 8 10 rainbow and you make a continuation bet (which I am ok with) for 55% of the pot and you get called by 1 player. At this point in time you should always be putting your opponent on a range of hands and have a plan throughout the remainder of the hand. If the turn is another blank, you should obviously consider just giving up if you put your opponent on a made hand and you think that they are not going to fold.
The common mistake here when the turn comes out a blank is that the AK hand may fire another bullet and could be drawing close to or stone cold dead. That’s why it’s important to put the other player on a range of hands where if a certain block of cards hit the turn, you need to shut down and just find a better spot. More times then not your opponent will miss the flop as well and the cbet (continuation bet) may work or even firing another bullet on the turn if a card falls that you think cannot be in your opponent’s range. It’s all about the plan that you have for the hand and not just forcing the action to try to win a pot that you have almost zero chances of winning.
That leads me in to another common leak or mistake that a player makes and that is not having a plan during a hand. If you are just going through the motions, good players will pick up on that and they will exploit it 100% of the time. It’s important to keep your bet size, betting pattern, betting style all the same whether you “have it” or not. Good players will be able to pick up on the way you place your chips in the pot just as well as the amount you bet with different hand ranges. It’s always important (especially for newer or less experienced players) to be conscience of this. I see this in every session I play and I use these mistakes to my advantage every chance that I get.
If you decide to enter a pot, no matter what 2 cards you have, always have a plan on every street during that hand. Know that if you miss the flop completely that you are still trying to tell a story so you have to make it believable. On the other end of that, if you connect with the flop than you want to extract as much value as possible. It’s important to know who is in the hand and what hand range you think that they may have. You never want to miss a street of value so take a few seconds to go over all of the possibilities like leading in to the pot without losing the other player(s) that saw the flop with you. Think about whether or not you are raising if you get raised on the flop and what other hands that are possibilities and could have you in bad shape. Take all of this in to consideration before you move on to the next street in the hand so that you are prepared and have a game plan put together and know exactly how to execute it.