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The Run Bad Poker Mentality: Trying to CORRECT what is in your power at the tables.

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Hello everyone! It's been a while since I wrote a blog and figured I would do one today.

I've had a few bad months recently at the tables so I figured it would be a nice time to write this blog regarding variance and a persons mentality when nothing seems to go right for several months in a row.

Anyone who has played a decent amount of poker in their life will deal with running bad. A lot of things can contribute to your downswing at the tables. Many times it starts with taking several bad beats or coolers in what feels like every time you sit down to play. You feel like your sinking in quicksand and can't get out of it but the truth is you can, it just might take a while.

Poker can be very profitable but also very brutal when you have a long period of running bad. The biggest key is how you handle yourself if you want to be successful long term in the game.

Let me just paint you a picture real quick as a basic example:

You sit down to play a $2/5 NL cash game and run your pocket aces into a set two of the last four times you were dealt them, and the other two times all you did was bet the flop then everyone folded. This happens from time to time in poker and it's not that bad when you think about it since it was only the last four times you were dealt aces that you ran poorly with them.

As a poker player our short term memory of the losses we take will always stick in our minds more then if we won with aces ten times in a row. It's almost as if we are entitled to win with pocket aces every time because it is the best starting hand, however, as we all know the game don't work like that.

Sometimes you will hear a recreational player say how they hate getting dealt pocket aces because they always get cracked and that is the wrong way to look at it. This player may not have played pocket aces correctly such as not raising enough preflop, not 3 betting it preflop (if the opportunity presented itself), under playing it, over playing it on the flop,etc... You get the idea!

So back to the original subject of the person who gets dealt pocket aces again after the last four times it didn't work out for them and they take another rough beat losing to some player with K6s. This villain called a raise preflop and hung around calling down until the river chasing that flush draw and getting there.

This time around our hero felt they did everything correctly, including a good bet size on every street and got unfortunate luck at the end to lose the hand. At this point along with some other coolers and being chipped away in pots our hero feels so defeated that they start getting away from the basics that have made them a lot of money in poker such as playing too many junk hands, overplaying hands early because they feel it's better then losing which costs them value in the long run,etc...

You can do nearly everything correctly or I should say "good enough to win" because most everyone has some leaks but sometimes no matter what you do you can't overcome certain things. The key is proper bankroll management and being able to overcome getting very discouraged! If you feel defeated at any point while playing a cash game, whether it's a few hours into your session or right when you sit down then it's time to quit for a while.

Some pros are that solely because of their discipline. They might not even be as great of a player as several others but they are capable of winning while not even breaking a sweat when they are stuck a few buyins.

If you take the decent player whose mentality is so good even when losing they are playing their "A" game almost always versus the solid, more skilled professional who gets rattled and starts playing his "D" game more then any poker player should who wins?

Give me the decent player over the more skilled professional when he's on his "D" game any day tilting a bit any day! .

If you get rattled like a majority of people do then the key is to know your limits and when it's time to quit. That is a big part of being a professional is stopping when your mindset is feeling defeated, or you feel you are completely in the "I got to get even" mode.

I think that is why if you've ever watched Phil Hellmuth play a live cash game he rarely buys in for a second bullet when he gets felted because his mindset is not clear enough to win. Phil Hellmuth is far from broke having more money then a ton of great players much better then him so that isn't the issue it's that he feels it's time for him to quit. Perhaps he's leaving too soon because it's a great game but if his head isn't in it then why stick around?

After playing poker for 13 years I will still run into moments where I'm second guessing everything I do because nothing is going right. One thing I try to consider is how I played in every situation if I got into some sticky spots that cost me money. Sometimes their is nothing I could do and other times I might have made a huge mistake that I want to learn from.

Poker is a game you want to continue to improve on no matter how long you have been playing for and that starts with being honest with yourself. Study your hands closely, keep your focus, and play within your bankroll.

Some players I've logged hundreds of hours in live cash with cash out less than 20% of the time. It's amazing to me that they keep coming back for more.

Don't get me wrong this is a great thing for the game but you have to wonder why these people keep on playing if they are huge donators?

What kind of mentality do these people have?

Do they even think about the game at all as far as improving goes or do they just enjoy sitting down at the table playing the same, not so great type of way in every session?

In theory you would think nobody likes to lose but if these people who constantly walk away down money continue to come back for more then what is it drawing them back in?

Is it the social element that keeps them coming back?

Do they just chalk it up to a typical form of gambling such as playing bingo or the lottery where they get a rush out of seeing what the next session will bring?

I'm going off track here from the original topic but the point I'm trying to make is that I think about these type of things because I'm very competitive where I don't like to lose. If I lose I do it as gracefully as possible but I'm always trying to learn from it because anything I can change in the future that might prevent me from losing, or help me make more money in the way I play my hands is something I strive to do.

Thanks for reading! I hope at least one person got something out of this, even if it's just a little inspiration.

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  1. thepuffster's Avatar this is ...sloppy.

    It may be tempting to powder your pieces with speculative trivia which you might without close observation mistake for your "true unique writerly" voice--- resist, its a bore. This piece is weighed down by the self-aggrandizing. just say no to extra words.