Sometimes you run bad, but usually you play bad.

Sunday, February 17, 2008 1:45 | Filled in poker

There is a flaw common to many of us as poker players.  We tend to think we are better than we are.  When we win, we accept it as our natural due and when we lose we tend to blame bad luck.  Certainly, luck is involved especially when you look at day by day results or even week by week (if you don’t play an insane number of hands).  However, as a rule, poker players who are losing money are far, far more likely to be playing poorly than any other reason.  I’m not complaining about the self-delusional possibilities of poker — in fact, they are the essence of why poker is a good game.  If the bad players ever figured out that the bulk of their losses come from mistakes and not from bad luck, it would be bad news for everyone.

With that in mind, I’ve had a terrible run lately.  When I experienced it, I was pretty sure that it was just because I was unlucky.  I can even point to a couple of hands where I did in fact, get very unlucky.  However, it is quite clear to me upon reviewing my hand histories that the overwhelming reason for my losses is that I was playing badly.  I should have lost money due to bad luck, it is true.  But I should have lost a whole lot less money.  And that has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with me.  It is clear to me that I’ve become a bit of a calldown monkey.  I’ve been calling down with any piece of the board and not playing aggressively when I’m doing so.  Passive post-flop play is a sure recipe for trouble.  Paying bets on the turn and on the river when you know you are beat is a another.  A few of the hand histories I’ve looked at have me scratching my head in total bafflement.  I just cannot imagine what in the world I was thinking in some of those hands.

However, it is critical to your success that you not only identify when your losses are caused by your mistakes, but that you dedicate yourself to correcting your mistakes.  Since my mistakes are pretty obvious, I think I should be able to make the right adjustments.  I’ve been playing a bit of no limit to get my head back on straight while I analyze my limit mistakes and so far that is going well again.  In fact, I’m up nearly $1,000 at the NL tables, which offsets my losses at limit.  I’ve dropped just over $2,000 since the last blog update, including a -$3,500 day!  A lot of my losses were at a good 30/60 table that got short-handed and I handled badly.  My net for the month is now around -$1,000, so I’m fairly certain to fall short of the profit goal for the month.  I’m still doing OK with the number of hands, since I’ve got about 7,500 VPPs and plenty of days left to play.

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