There is nothing more frustrating at the poker table than running bad. You get it in with AA against an opponent’s AK only for them to miraculously make trips; you flop a set and your opponent shoves with an over-pair only to hit their two-outer on the river; then to cap it all off you flop a monster draw but manage to miss the lot despite being a big favorite to win the hand.
For good or bad, it happens to all of us at one time or another and when it’s your turn you will feel that the entire world is conspiring against you. But there can be a much bigger demon at play in these situations and if you plan to ride out the wave without busting your bankroll it is vital you are aware of it. What is this demon we speak of? Bad play, or to be more precise, the bad decisions that can creep into your game when lady luck isn’t on your side.
It’s all too easy when you’re running bad to simply pat yourself on the back, tell yourself you made the right play and were simply unlucky to lose the hand. And the one before that. Yet it is human nature that emotions cloud judgement and as such it is extremely difficult even for the very best players to play their A-game after a run of terrible luck. With the pain of all those beats still playing on your mind, you start second guessing yourself and folding when you should raise; or convince yourself that your opponent “couldn’t possibly have it again” and raise when you should fold.
Situations such as these are the difference between a bad month and a terrible one, and in the long term the difference between a winning player and a losing one. But what can you do different? The simple answer is to stop blaming your losses on bad luck and review your play. Look at what you’ve been doing, where it’s been going wrong and what you might have done differently. Be diligent and never rest on your laurels. In some cases you will no doubt find there was very little you could have changed, but just as often you’ll stumble across scenarios where your play wasn’t as optimal as you originally thought. Perhaps a tweak here or there is exactly what your game needed!
Remember, luck at the tables will eventually turn – just make sure you’ve still got a bankroll in place to be able to enjoy it.