Plug Poker Leaks In Before They Cause Irreparable Damage

plugging leaks

You should always be looking to improve your skills as a poker player with analyzing your play being one of the best ways to do this. Going through your hand histories and taking notes of key hands played during your session could help you to plug any leaks in your game, and you are about to discover that minor leaks can be horrific for your win rate.

Let us imagine that you arrive home from work to discover a water pipe has burst and your bathroom is in the process of being flooded. You are extremely unlikely to stand there hoping it will fix itself. Instead, you will probably get straight on the phone, call a plumber and have them fix the problem. Your water pipe is less likely to burst again, which you are happy about because this one-off issue was quite costly.

Now imagine if that burst pipe was not gushing water everywhere, but was a tiny leak instead. While much less severe than a big hole in the pipe, this minor leak could go unnoticed for months, allowing water to seep into your house and cause a massive issue that could cost thousands of dollars to rectify. Which is worse overall?

An Example of a Major and Minor Leak in Your Game

We can apply this scenario to you playing poker using a simplified example. If you folded every time you held a Royal Flush it would cost you a big pot, although this would only happen once or twice a year depending on how many hands you play. Personally, I have played poker for more than a decade and have only made a Royal Flush once. For this example, we will put a figure of this massive, unthinkable leak as costing you $150 each year.

But what if you made a seemingly small mistake, a leak, dozens of times each time you played. This minor error, in your eyes at least, could cost you something as small as $0.50 each time you make it, but make that mistake a couple of thousand times a year and you are looking at $1,000 being left at the table that should be in your poker bankroll.

Big mistakes are easy to fix because they stand out from the crowd, like in our overly simplified example. Small, minor leaks can go unnoticed because you do not realize you are making them, or perhaps do not even realize they are mistakes at all.

There could be dozens of issues with your poker game that you may not be aware of that include:

  • Always making a continuation bet regardless of the flop texture or your opponent’s tendencies
  • Not making enough value bets
  • Playing too many hands out of position, especially from the blinds
  • Altering your bet size based purely in the strength of your hand

How many of you are sat there nodding your heads after realizing you make these mistakes frequently? How many of you are actively trying to plug leaks in your game?

How to Plus Leaks in Your Game

The best way to plug leaks in your game is to study your play from the last session you played. Take notes in a notebook if you play poker at a casino or home game, or use the downloadable hand histories if you play poker online.

A good place to start is to list the top 10 biggest hands that you won and the 10 largest you lost. The reason for this is most people will only look at losing hands to see what went wrong. An equally bad leak is where you did not extract enough value from the hands you won, effectively leaving money at the table.

You may find that if you had bet a certain street or had increased your bet sizing that you would have won more money. Likewise, the hands that you were destined to lose, what we often call coolers, could reveal you could have lost less money than you did.

Move onto your play from under the gun and in early position, before analyzing your play from the blinds. Players often play far too many hands from the small and big blind because they are receiving a financial discount for doing so. While there are situations where calling raises from the blinds with speculative hands is a good idea, this will be a costly mistake in the long run for the most part.

Find a system that works for you. Study your play straight after a session so the table dynamics are fresh in your mind, but return to the same session a day or two later when your emotions are not running high because you may find a leak that was previously unsighted.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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