As you read through the many wonderful poker blogs that are out there you'll find many of the bloggers discussing their strength and weaknesses at the poker table. One particular weakness I seem to see a pattern with is "making the right read, and not following through". Now the consequences of this can be positive or negative. Either way you are losing bets if you're attentive enough to make a read on an opponent and not following through on your observation.
(For ease of use, these example are for a full ring limit game)
1) Its only one more bet to see that he/she has me beat
Unless it is limit poker and its last bet on the river, why throw away an hour's worth of profit (if you're making 1/BB an hour, but I know most successful players are making 3-4BB/hr) if you know you're beat. The only other exception would be to validate your read on this player once and only once. "Paying for information" as Danny N. has been known to quip about.
2) I was tired and didn't care
Then you shouldn't be playing in the first place. If a poker player is to become successful he/she needs to be attentive of all the things happening (virtual or real) at the table. Figure out who's the table coach and telling others how to play their cards. Who will call you down with middle pair even if you're raising. Who will fold to a river bet. Who will fold top pair to a strong raise on a scary board. Make notes on the players you are playing against either mentally, through jotting down notes on paper, or using the notes system within most of the internet site games. I have been guilty of playing poker tired several times and my losses (tracked on Pokertracker) are mostly in the later parts of the night or it could be due to the nocturnal blogger's table that lures you in like the hookers in the red light district of Amsterdam.
3) My opponent made a donkey call and won last time
This happens to everyone, why not profit from it? Having JJ and get called down by K5o only to have the king spike on the river. It pisses you off and makes you want revenge, so you start going into aggressive-tilt mode which usually leads to bleeding chips that you normally wouldn't play. Toss that Ace+rag in early position even if the donkey is still playing J6o directly to your left. You tagged him as a fish, wait for your chances like a good tight-aggressive player should. Wait until he overplays his middle pair/no kicker again and punish him for it. Again, you made the observation, now follow through on it.
4) Make notes (as briefly stated above)
If you are going to be a serious poker player, making notes on your opponents is crucial. Other then table selection, you make your money based on the bad play of others (and maybe the deck hitting you in the face once in a while). Whether the notes are favorable (i.e. player is a calling station, will call down any pocket pair) or not (good tight-aggressive player, proceed with caution) you make money. Because of your observations and notes, if the good tight-aggressive player raises UTG you can expect he/she has a premium hand and can fold ATo with relative ease and save money. Or if someone raises $3.72 at a blogger table make sure you have anti-tilt hat on because either you're going to get bluffed by the hammer or the blogger will turn over a monster.
Wrapping up my rambling here... following through on your observations WILL improve your BB/hr average. If you're still wondering why you have not been able to move up in limits (like me), more then likely its not you playing the wrong cards, it is probably you incorrectly playing your opponents and not following through on your reads. Anyone can get good cards and raise the heck out of them and make money. Its knowing when to 3-bet and when to fold that you will hold an advantage over your opponents. And if your IQ is over 45 and you're not playing PartyPoker under bonus code IGGY, you need to have your lobotomy reversed and start fleecing the fish!
I know I'm not the accomplished writer that many of the bloggers are (see blog roll for much better poker verse and tips) but I will try to share what I learn based on my experiences all while butchering the English language. Thanks for reading :)
Go read Otis' final table of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure write up (linky to the right). I could feel the wind coming in while sitting at that table after reading. GREAT JOB OTIS!!!