Tips For Dealing With Losing at Poker

Losing at poker

Poker is the easiest game in the world when you are winning. Everyone who has ever played this crazy game has thought, wrongly, that they are the next Phil Ivey or Daniel Negreanu when they have won a poker tournament or won several cash game sessions in a row when playing online poker.

The problem lies in that poker can be a cruel game. One where it is possible to play perfectly and still lose. Imagine working a 40-hour week in your day job for an entire month only for your boss to say they are not paying you, or you actually owe them some money, despite performing your duties to the best of your ability. This is poker.

You Will Lose Playing Poker

You are going to spend a lot of your time losing as a poker player. It is just how the game is. Those of you reading this who prefer grinding poker tournaments should be aware that even the very best players in the world only cash in 15 to 20 percent of the tournaments they enter, and those cashes are often min-cashes, not outright victories.

Cash game specialists can and do play tens of thousands of hands and break even, or even find themselves losing several buy-ins. The variance in poker is crazy thanks to the game being based on both math and pure luck.

How you deal with losing at poker can shape you as a player. Be a bad loser and you are likely to lose even more money, perhaps even all of your bankroll if you are prone to going on tilt. Learn to deal with losing at poker in the proper manner and losing will just be part and parcel of playing poker.

Develop a Top Mental Attitude

Losing at poker

Losing at poker

Dealing with losing at poker is easier if you learn to accept it. In The Mental Game of Poker, one of the most important poker strategy books ever written, Jared Tendler talks about players going on “entitlement tilt”. A loose description of entitlement tilt is when a player believes they have the right to win all the time if they play a hand well. This is not only wrong, but also a dangerous way of thinking. Nobody has the right to win, all you can do is play a hand to the best of your ability and hope for the best.

Another way of dealing with losing is to ensure you are following a proper bankroll management strategy. Far too many poker players are playing “under rolled”, that is without enough of a bankroll for the stakes they are currently playing. Think of this example, would you rather lose $100 from a $200 bankroll or $1,000 from a $15,000 bankroll? The second option is obviously better despite being 10-times the loss. Losing such a substantial chunk of your bankroll can hurt you mentally, which in turn leads to not being able to deal with losing in the correct manner.

For the reason above, you should consider moving down in stakes if you are on a losing stretch that seems to be dragging on. As a rule, players in lower stakes games are lesser skilled, so you should not only be able to outplay these players more but also lose less in monetary terms by dropping down a level or two. It can also be a good idea to drop down to the smallest stakes available, particularly if you play online poker, and play a completely different style than you would do ordinarily. Maybe play for tiny stakes and raise every hand, or three-bet every hand. You may lose a few bucks but you will probably have some fun, and having fun is what poker is all about at the end of the day.

Losing at Poker? It’s Time to Put Some Study In

The best advice for dealing with losing at poker is to put some time in away from the tables to study your play. Most online poker sites allow you to download your hand histories – partypoker has recently removed this facility – that you can then use to evaluate your play.

Go through hand histories and check for any glaring errors you have made. Look for mistakes that your opponents have made against you; sometimes bad beats happen and you just have to accept them and move on – there will be an article coming about this soon!

We would be willing to bet your bottom dollar that once you given a thorough study of your own game, you will find that one of the biggest reasons you are losing in cash games or tournaments will be down to your own play. Knowing this, you can put steps in place to plug any leaks and prevent those same mistakes from happening time and time again.

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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