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Poker News: February 27, 2006

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Top 5 reasons why you're losing at poker

THERE'S A QUOTE I once heard that I thought was genius: "Poker is a lot like sex. Everybody thinks they are great at it, but most people don't really know what they're doing."

Because of that truth, people generally blame their losing streaks on bad luck. Well, while bad luck can certainly play a role, there might just be other pressing factors for your losing. Here are the top five reasons.

1. Bad luck: If this is your worst problem, then, ironically, you're in luck! Why? Poker is a game where luck does play a part in how well you do, and bad luck could be the reason you're losing.

However, the longer you play poker, smartly, the less likely bad luck will continue as a factor that brings you down. Like all poker players, you have to ride out bad luck streaks. Just don't be foolish and create your own bad luck.

Losing a few sessions in a row can easily be chalked up to bad luck, but if you're habitually losing after months and months of play, chances are bad luck is not really the key factor.

Here's a suggestion: Chart your results by the hour. See how you're doing after 500 to 1,000 hours of play before throwing in the towel. If you're still showing a loss after that much play, well, you just might have a problem that has nothing to do with luck.

2. Too predictable: This is especially true if you were once a winning player against the same opponents and are now losing to them on a regular basis. If you have a very straightforward approach to the game, it could be that your opponents are on to you. Solution: Elevate your game by adding some deceptive plays to your arsenal.

For example, if your opponents have caught on to the fact that you simply never bluff, maybe it's time that you come out of your shell and start making some creative moves.

3. Playing in tough games: You could be the fifth best poker player in the world, but if you're seated at a table with the top four players in the world, well, you're the sucker!

Game selection is as important to your bankroll as how you play the game. Swallow your pride, put your ego in check, and simply ask yourself this tough question: Are the guys that I play with better than me? If the answer is yes, you need to find a new game against lesser-skilled competitors.

4. Lack of fundamentals: This is a common reason for losing. But there is some good news: Learning poker fundamentals is as easy as picking up a few great books and working on expanding your knowledge base. Hey, it certainly couldn't hurt.

If you don't have a solid foundation for making poker decisions, you'll always be a step behind. Learn how to play the game the right way by focusing on the basics, and when you get those down, add the elements of your own style to the mix.

And the top reason why you're losing at poker:

5. Playing on tilt: The most significant factor in your overall results is how you handle yourself when you get unlucky. Many players blow a gasket, lose their cool, and their bankrolls soon follow.

Taking a bad beat or two is inevitable. The difference between long-term winners and losers is how bad luck affects their play over the course of the session.

You never want to chase your money. You also don't want to lose your patience by playing hands you know you shouldn't be playing. If you simply can't handle the stress related to bad beats, then do yourself a favor and quit before things turn ugly.

Remember, there's always tomorrow. Poker isn't going anywhere.

Daniel Negreanu writes for Card Shark Media. Questions should be directed to

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