Handy Solutions For When You Are Running Bad

Running bad is an awful spot to find yourself in as a poker player but it happens to absolutely everyone. Here's how to deal with it.

There are times when poker players can seemingly do nothing wrong. They win more than their fair share of pots. They correctly make big folds and win even if they get their chips in behind. Running hot is great. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, and running bad is a horrible experience because you can seemingly do nothing correctly.

Running bad is something that happens to every poker player throughout their career. There is no way to predict when it will happen only that it will happen at some point. Lady Luck is a cruel mistress at times and she wreaks havoc indiscriminately. You have been warned.

What Is Running Bad In Poker?

The term running bad is used by poker players when variance is not on their side. Have you ever had big pairs cracked by smaller pairs, or got your stack in with a set only to get stacked by a larger set? Are you missing draws a lot more than usual? You are running bad if this happens over an extended period of time. Some players call running bad a downswing; they are one and the same thing.

Do not mistake standard variance for running bad. Your pocket aces will lose to kings 18% of the time, or almost once every five times. Your aces losing to kings several times in a row is a sign of running bad.

What To Do When Running Bad at Poker?

Making sure losing was not your fault is the first thing to do when you think you are running bad. Humans do not like to criticize themselves and it is easy to blame losing on variance than their errors.

Analyze your hand histories and see if you misplayed any of the hands in question. For example, did you wrongly slowplay your aces? Did you give your opponent great pot odds to chase their draw? It is not only the fault of Lady Luck why you are losing, that we guarantee.

Furthermore, it is easy to alter your playing style when running bad. You may not even know you have changed how you play. Most people either increase their aggression or become more passive. Both scenarios have the ability to exacerbate the issue.

Consider Dropping Down Stakes During a Downswing

Continually losing during a downswing is demoralizing. It is even worse when you see your bankroll disappearing before your eyes. Live poker players do not have much choice regarding the stakes they play. However, online poker players are spoiled for choice. Say your usual cash game is $0.25/$0.50 you can play as low as $0.01/$0.02. Dropping down works for two reasons. First, your opponents are lesser skilled at lower stakes. Second, any losses endured are much smaller.

It is sometimes a good idea to drop to the lowest stakes and splash around in pots. Playing a super loose-aggressive style at the micro-stakes can be good to reset how you feel.

Focus on the Long Term and Play Through The Downswing

There is not much you can do when running bad aside from protecting your bankroll. Those of you who keep detailed records about your sessions know if you are a winning player or not. Winning players know the cards turn back in your favor eventually, losing is just a blip on the road.

Focus on the long term and play your way through a downswing. By this we mean try to play each hand to the best of your ability, maximizing the value you get from it. In addition, treat each hand as a separate occasion. The previous hand nor the next hand has any bearing on how you play your current spot.

It is important to always try to be positive even when losing. Do not get angry if an opponent sucks out on you, either keep quiet or simply smile and get on with the next hand. Running badly does not last forever.

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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