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Bill Burton is an advantage blackjack player and skilled poker player. He is the author of "1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets" and "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em"(the latter available at 10% discount in the BJI store) and the guide at


It doesnít matter how good a poker player you think you are, sooner or later you are going to run into a losing streak. One thing is certain: a losing streak can affect players psychologically. It can wreak havoc with us emotionally, causing us to second-guess and question our own abilities and our play. How you handle a losing streak will be a true test of your poker abilities.

All players at one time or another will experience a losing streak so itís important to be prepared. When this happens, you need to determine if your losses were brought about by bad play on your part, or just a negative fluctuation in the luck of the draw. When you start losing, the first thing to do is to do is to thouroghly analyze all aspects of your game.

If the losing streak is being caused by bad play, then you need to determine why and then take action to correct the situation. There are several things you should ask yourself: "Did you loosen your standards for starting hands?" "Are you misreading the board?" "Are you playing too loose or too aggressively?" "Did you move up in limits?" "Are you playing too long?" "Are you multitasking while playing online?"

Common Problems

Many players who go through a losing streak may find that they have loosened their standards for starting hands. They have had great success and many winning sessions and before you know it they think they are invincible. They start entering the pot by playing hands out of position. They also tend to take more chances and end up playing too many hands.

Itís common for players to move up in limits as they become more proficient. Many times when you move up you will encounter players that are much more skilled. If you find that your losing streak started when you moved up you may want to drop down to a lower limit. Itís much better to be a winning player in a low limit game than a losing player in a high limit game. Even if your losing streak is not being caused by bad play, you may want to drop down in limits anyway until your run of bad cards is over.

I play a lot of online Sit & Go tournaments. After finishing in the money in 16 out of 20 tournaments, I experienced an ugly losing streak and went 0 for 15. I finally moved down in betting limits just to preserve my bankroll until the losing streak ended and when it did, I started consistently winning again.

Players on a losing streak may find that they often have been playing more aggressively. They may be raising more or just bluffing more to try and bully their opponents. In reality they are just throwing away money and compounding their losses.

One of the biggest problems with playing online is that there are so many other distractions while you are trying to play, such as talking on the phone, watching TV, answering e-mails or reading a magazine and all or some of these could be the cause of your losing streak. Making mental errors such as misreading the board, or not noticing that the guy who just raised you has only played three hands in the last hour, will contribute to your losing. There is no way around it: you have to give the game your full attention if you want to be successful.

Playing too long may also be a factor in your losing sessions because you lose concentration or can even get bored and find yourself not giving the game your full attention. If you have been losing after playing marathon sessions itís better to cut back the amount of time you play.


Bad Luck

If you can honestly say that you have not been making any of the above mistakes, then it may be that you were just suffering a string of bad luck. If your losses are being caused by a bad run of the cards, then it's time to batten down the hatches and weather the storm. One thing you can do to combat a losing streak is to tighten up your game a little more. Play only the very best hands and forgo some of the drawing hands that you might have been playing.

There is nothing worse than finding yourself with the second best hand, time after time. Weíve all been there when small sets are beaten by larger sets, straights are beaten by flushes and flushes are beaten by full houses. Itís ugly but it happens to the best of players from time to time.

Stick With the Game Plan

One thing you donít want to do is make any radical changes in your play. When most players experience a losing streak, they sometimes start playing differently. They tend to second-guess some of their play. A player who has had success playing aggressively may become timid and start calling instead of raising. They may hesitate making a play for fear of losing. You canít forsake your winning strategy to compensate for a run of bad cards.

Unfortunately, some players will go on tilt during a long losing streak. This will only add to their problems. If you find yourself playing differently or starting to play recklessly then it might be best to just take a few or weeks off and get away from the game for awhile.

Itís a gimme that everyone sooner or later will experience bad luck and losing streaks. A winning player will take it in stride and come out stronger in the end. It is, after all, just a part of this wonderful and sometimes frustrating game we call Poker.

Until Next time remember:

Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.




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