Saturday, July 11, 2009

Do You Know The Poker Leaks in Your Game?

What is a Poker Leak?

I couldn't find a good definition of a poker leak online, so let me try to define it here:

A poker leak is anything you do on a consistent basis at a poker table that ends up costing you money. You may or may not be conscious of your leak, but since it is based on your actions (and not the randomness of the cards) you do have the ability to eliminate it from your game.

Examples of Poker Leaks

When you let a bad beat on one hand of poker get you so upset that it effects your play negatively on subsequent hands, you are on tilt. This is probably the most common leak among players.

When I first started playing poker, I never went on tilt. However, thanks to online poker, tilting is something I tend to embrace. I need to stop that leak.

You will notice that top pros don't go on tilt. You may watch Phil Hellmuth get upset but you won't see him go on tilt. Instead, he marches away in anger willing to miss the next hand of poker in order to calm himself down.

Another leak is when you let an opponent get under your skin. Often it is because he or she seems to be bullying you and maybe stealing the blinds. Or, maybe the player is just being obnoxious and raising and re-raising with any two cards. Whatever the reason, instead of playing your A game, you focus on this one opponent. The result is that you play sub-optimal poker the rest of the night, costing you money.

Tells are a leak that are found in many players. The most common tell is when you act strong when you are weak, and you act weak when you are strong. You may have a tell or two and not even know about it.

Years ago I met a friend in Vegas who told me that he had no tells in his poker game. He wanted to prove it to me, so he asked me to watch him play. Oh my! I think he had more tells than any other poker player I had ever seen.

One of his tells is that his body gave away the strength of his hand. If he had a big hand pre-flop, he would lean into the table. Then if he improved on the flop, he would lean in even more. But if he didn't improve on the flop, he would lean back into the chair.

Another leak is when you give away your hand by the size of your pre-flop bet. Some players will make raises five, six or seven times the big blind when they have pairs and they don't want action.

In fact, being predictable with your betting patterns is a major leak in your game. For example, if you never check raise with a flush draw on the flop, your opponent can take advantage of you. If the flush card doesn't come on the turn, he can bet big enough to get you off your hand. And if the flush card does come, he can safely check and fold.


Every player has poker leaks. The key is to plug your leaks and find the holes in your opponents' game.

Very little has been written about poker leaks and yet they are something that you should address. Maybe I need to write another book. 101 Poker Leaks: Plug the holes in your game while spotting the ones in your opponents.

1 comment:

temalyen said...

Good article. I'd never heard the concept of a poker leak before. But, of course, I knew about tells. I actually figured one of my own tells out not too long ago. Every time a flop was particularly favorable to me, I'd take a sip of whatever I was drinking. I think I've eliminated that particular tell, though.

Though I learned to play poker online and think I developed a lot of tells and never bothered to curb them because no one could see me at first. That needs to change.

What's Your Poker IQ?