10 Reasons Rookies Lose Money at the Poker Table

Man Holding Head with Hands and a Dealt Poker Table on Right

For me, poker has always been a game that’s shrouded in romance and mystery. It reminds me of a black and white scene from the Old West, where cowboys would sip whiskey and play cards when they weren’t struggling through their daily trials and tribulations.

Perhaps this is what drew me to the game many years ago. Boy, did I go through a painful learning curve on my way to becoming an above-average poker player.

I lost money hand over fist when I walked into the casino poker rooms as a rookie. Things were different then; the poker boom of the early 2000s hadn’t fully kicked off yet.

That meant the poker rooms were full of legitimate sharks trying to scrape by on the meager morsels left by the fish. It seemed impossible to win in those days, but that can be attributed to how poor I was as a player.

These 10 reasons rookies lose money at the poker table destroyed me as a newbie, but my suffering can help you become a better poker player.

1 – They Don’t Have Enough Knowledge of the Game

Poker is a game where higher skill is a tremendous advantage for the experienced player. The poker icons that we look up to are masters of the game because they have spent countless hours in poker rooms and reading every piece of information on poker theory and strategy available.

The most apparent reason rookies lose money at the poker table is that they don’t know enough about the game. Knowing hand rankings is a good start, but that type of basic knowledge will be just enough to get you in trouble at the tables.

Dive into the deeper poker strategies and work on your knowledge of poker to become a better player. All you need to do to be profitable is play in games with lesser skilled players.

2 – They Aren’t Prepared for the Onslaught of Better Players

When I walked into the casino poker room for the first time, I was not prepared for the competition I would face. Many rookies get so comfortable playing and beating their regular home game crowd that they overlook the glaring deficiencies in their opponents’ game.

Not only are they suddenly facing better players, but the better players are everywhere. It can feel suffocating to search around for players to take advantage of in games.

Texas Holdem Four of a Kind

In today’s poker climate, many of the fish would make a decent player twenty years ago. As it stands, they lose cash the minute they walk into the casino.

You can prepare for better competition by surrounding yourself with better players. This will drive you to improve your abilities and have a more precise gauge of where you stand.

3 – They Bet Too Aggressively in the Wrong Situations

There is a time and place in the poker room to play aggressively. Unfortunately, many rookies have no idea when is the proper time to play aggressively.

All they know is that if they’re passive, it’ll make them look weaker than they really are. So, they posture around the table and bet too aggressively, far too often.

This causes the other players to not respect a player’s hand, and they’ll receive more aggressive playback at them. That will force rookies off of some hands that they should be playing.

It’s okay to be aggressive, but you should play aggressively when the time is right. Playing too many hands because you’re betting every hand better than J/10 will get your bankroll in some bad situations.

4 – They Believe They’re Better Than They Are

Due to the poor competition they are used to facing, a lot of rookies believe they are better poker players than they actually are. This false sense of accomplishment is tough to break.

When a poker player becomes accustomed to winning consistently, the ego will constantly fill their heads with lies. This mistaken belief that they are a skilled player is made worse as they progress towards other novice players they once believed to be veteran poker players.

Full House Poker Hand

You’ll never get better until you start to understand how far you have to go. One of the more significant issues I see with players thinking they’re better is finding excuses in everything.

It’s nearly impossible for the overconfident player to see the flaws in their approach to the game. So, everything comes down to bad luck, which doesn’t exist in poker.

5 – They Don’t Understand the Benefits of Table Position

Table position can provide some significant advantages around the poker table. Rookies have a tough time understanding how table position can affect a hand.

Being in later positions to act is generally considered advantageous because you get to see the table act before you. While you’re not going to completely destroy yourself by not having a firm grasp of table position strategy, it will cost you money until you can begin using it to your advantage.

Table position strategy will come to you over time. Eventually, it’ll become intuitive. Then you’ll be able to act confidently and let the table position back your plays in the eyes of the other players.

6 – They Go on Tilt Often

We’ve all seen one of the poker players we respect meltdown entirely and go full tilt at the tables. Hopefully, we have poker heroes that are ice-cold regardless, but some players prefer to play with passion and wear their emotions on their sleeves.

Rookies tend to emulate their poker idols. So, if your favorite pro is regularly having a mental breakdown at the table, you’ll inherently be more inclined to having a meltdown at the table.

Other times, there will be no outward signs of the absolute breakdown that you’re going through. Unless you count the complete implosion in your game.

Blackjack Table with Cards and Casino Chips, Angry Man with Arms Crossed

Stay level-headed at the table. You’re going to get bad beats, some of the time, a player will make a ridiculous play that costs you, and some players will merely rub you raw.

Don’t let the table see how sideways you are; that will not help your situation. Avoid going on tilt, and you’ll start seeing better results from your sessions.

7 – They Are Too Predictable

One of the most crucial aspects of winning poker is keeping your opponents guessing. Your more experienced competition will always be working on getting you on a hand.

When they can accurately start putting you on a hand, you’re going to lose the battle. Rookie poker players tend to be reasonably easy to read.

A major part of that comes down to their predictability. In other words, rookies will play similar hands the same way time after time.

Table position or how other players act makes little difference. They have a method and don’t have the proper skillset to deviate from that plan one way or another.

Learn to be less predictable in the poker room, and you’ll stop losing so much money.

8 – They Never Think Ahead

One of the critical flaws in rookie poker players’ games is their inability to think ahead. Savvy poker players are constantly thinking three or more steps ahead.

Good players will have a plan for how they want to steer their hands. Should another player throw a wrench in that plan, they move to their contingency.

Closeup of a Poker Hand at a Home Game

Solid players never make moves at the poker table without knowing why. Rookies burn a lot of their bankroll by making decisions on a whim.

The strategy of making a play and hoping for the best is a great way to stay broke for rookie poker players.

9 – They Have Zero Strategy Behind Their Bluffs

Bluffing is an integral part of poker. A skilled veteran knows precisely how to use a well-timed bluff to completely catch their opponent off guard.

Sadly, the rookies tend to bluff way too often. They understand they’re at a disadvantage, so they bluff in an effort to compensate for their inadequacies.

The ploy sometimes works, which boosts the rookie’s confidence. That leads to more bluffs down the road and eventually bites the novice player on the nose.

You can fool some of your competitors all of the time, you can fool all of your fellow players some of the time, but you won’t fool all of the other poker players all of the time.

Bluffing too much will get you into bad situations later in the game or tournament.

10 – They Are Patently Outplayed

What’s the most significant reason rookies lose money at such an alarming rate in the poker room?

It’s because they are patently outplayed at every turn. The rookies aren’t at total fault, and I’m not saying rookies shouldn’t be getting real-world poker experience.

Being a legitimate rookie doesn’t mean you have to suffer through a lifetime of playing like a fish. You should continue to develop your game, and the best way to do that is by playing against better competition.

Two Men at a Poker Tournament Table

Some players opt to hire a poker coach to take their game to the next level. However, I think there are several benefits to taking a more organic route.

That means finding a poker mentor in your area. The process of finding a veteran poker player to teach you their ways can take some time.

So, use the interim to expand your knowledge and skillset. Then when you find a player willing to take you the rest of the way, you’ll be much closer to reaching your goals.

Our Thoughts

These 10 reasons rookies lose money at the poker table manifest themselves in different ways. Some players will have issues in all areas, and others will make a rash of poor decisions surrounding only a few.

Keep in mind that learning any new skill is a challenge, and don’t beat up on yourself too much.