Top Five Reasons You’re Losing At Poker
Poker is without a doubt the most popular card game in the world. Millions of people around the world are playing poker as you read this, matching wits with their opponents – and maybe taking home some extra cash at the end of the day.
Naturally, some of these players will be better at poker than others. This isn’t a game of pure luck, where your fate hangs entirely on the random turn of a card; poker is also a game of skill, one that you can master with enough time and practice. We have a long and growing list of articles here at Bodog Poker that will show you how.
But what if you’ve put in the time and the practice, enough to confidently say you’re better than the average player – and you’re still frustrated with your results? It probably boils down to one of the following top five reasons you’re losing at poker.
1. You’ve Become Too Predictable
It’s all too easy to fall into a rut when you’re at the tables. Newer players are highly recommended to start their poker journey with a simple “ABC” strategy that will minimize the frequency and impact of the mistakes they make, but the downside with this strategy is that your moves will become predictable to more veteran players who are paying close enough attention.
The most predictable part of ABC poker is the lack of bluffing. For the most part, you will “bet your hand” by placing large bets when you’ve got a monster hand – say, at least Two Pair in Texas Hold’em – and smaller bets when you’ve got Top Pair or worse.
More sophisticated “Game-Theory Optimal” (GTO) strategies will ask you to bluff more often to keep your opponents guessing. How often? That will depend on the cards you can see, the size of the bets, where you are in the hand (preflop, flop, turn, or river), and several other factors too numerous to mention here.
GTO poker is complicated enough that it should be saved for the experts. But there is a solution for beginners and intermediate players, and it ties into Reason No. 2:
2. The Games Are Too Difficult
Whatever level your poker game is at right now, if you’re playing at stakes where the competition is better than you, losing is inevitable in the long run. ABC poker strategies work best when you’re playing at the micro-stakes; the higher up the ladder you climb, the more you need to incorporate GTO principles into your game. Much like our top five celebrity poker players do.
Which brings us to our No. 1 solution for losing players: Drop down in stakes. It’s always going to be tempting to push your luck and play at the highest levels your bankroll can afford, but this is one of the worst things you can be doing at the tables. Testing yourself every once in a while against better competition is smart. Constantly beating your head against that wall is not.
3. You’re Having a Run of Bad Luck
As much as we like to emphasize that poker is a game of skill, the element of luck still plays a very large role – as it does in all sports, and life in general for that matter. With this in mind, one of the key reasons you’re losing at poker could well be down to a lack of luck.It’s not easy to quantify how much of poker boils down to dumb luck, but it’s been said a few times that poker is about 70% skill and 30% random chance.
Anytime you find yourself in a downswing, your first assumption should be that you’re making mistakes. But maybe you aren’t. Although you can’t use tracking software live while you play at Bodog Poker, you can download your hand histories and use these trackers to analyze your game away from the tables. This will help you figure out what mistakes you’ve been making, and/or whether you’ve just been “running bad” on the felt.
4. You’ve Forgotten Your Fundamentals
So you’ve learned the basic tenets of a sound poker strategy, and you’re pretty sure you’re bringing all the right ideas to the table. But are you executing those ideas properly? If not, there may be something missing from your poker arsenal. Maybe you’ve stopped doing something fundamentally important, like sizing your bets according to your hand strength (ABC), or sizing your bets according to how many bluffs you should have in your range (GTO).
This kind of thing happens all the time. There’s a lot to consider when you’re playing poker, and while most of those fundamentals will become automatic for you through practice, sometimes they’ll fall off your radar screen.
Again, tracking software can help you analyze your game and see which mistakes you’ve been making. Once you’ve identified where your fundamentals have been slipping, spend some time working specifically on those situations. For example, if you haven’t been check-raising enough out of position, spend an entire session (at the micro-stakes) where all you do is check-raise every hand. Practice makes perfect.
5. You’re on Tilt
No matter how much of a poker expert you are, if you lose your composure at the tables, you’ll lose the game – and your money. Check yourself before you wreck yourself; anytime you end up making decisions based on emotion rather than strategy, or you’re just not having fun playing the game, step away. There’s no need to keep playing when you’re not in the right frame of mind.
That’s unless you happen to be in the middle of a tournament when you start tilting. You can still give yourself a personal time-out, though, and either leave the table for an orbit, or fold whichever hole cards you’re dealt. This is also a good way to deal with the fatigue that can set in over the course of a long tournament session. Not being in the correct headspace can be a key reason you’re losing at poker.
Once you apply this top five checklist to your poker game, you should eventually be able to pull out of that downswing and start winning at Bodog Poker on a more consistent basis. Keep honing your skills, and we’ll see you at the tables.