Top 5 Reasons Why You Lose at Poker

Poker is not an easy game.

It has been said that close to 90% of people that play poker are long-term losing players.

Why is this?

In this article I will outline the top 5 reasons why an overwhelming majority of players don’t show a profit in the long run. This article  is geared toward short-handed 6-max No-Limit Hold’em cash games, but generally can be applied in tournaments as well.

5. You play far too many hands out of position.

A flaw that many players have is they play far too many hands out of position. When you play out of position, you give your opponent the advantage of seeing how you act before they have to act.

This gives them an informational advantage and can use that advantage to exploit you. I am a huge advocate of playing in position and I think it is more important then the cards you hold. It is a lot easier to deduct an opponents hand range when you are in position and this will enable you to pull off more successful bluffs and more importantly maximize your value bets when you have a good hand.

One of the best poker players Phil Ivey has been quoted saying “he would not even want to play his grandma out of position.”

 4. You don’t make smart bets.

Making proper bets is essential to be a successful no-limit player. You want to maximize your value on your big hands and defend your hand properly when it is vulnerable to being drawn out against.

You don’t want to give your opponent good odds to chase his hand when you have him beat already. When you make a big hand, your main goal is to take your opponents entire stack. To do this, you have to size your bets properly on each street so it is easy to get stacks in on the river without over betting the pot.

I notice a lot of players with big hands bet too small because they don’t want to scare their opponents away.

Likewise, they also try to bluff with small bets that give their opponents good odds to look them up. Missing value in bets is the same as losing money and in the long-run it will negatively effect your win rate.

3. You check/call more often than bet/raise.

Most good players are very aggressive. They would rather bet or raise than simply check or call. Aggression is key for a winning poker player.

It gives you initiative to pick up pots when you don’t have a hand and it allows you to maximize value on your made hands. It also makes it hard for opponents to develop good reads on your play because you are always betting and raising and they will often be confused by what those bets and raises mean when you do it in a controlled aggressive fashion.

When you only check or call, you give your opponents the opportunity to take pots away with their own aggression, and you lose value on your good hands by not raising. Timed aggression is key, and it can win you more pots than by playing too passively.

2. You don’t practice proper bankroll management.

Proper bankroll management is essential if you want to play winning poker.

Without a proper bankroll, you will eventually go broke.

Luck plays a big factor in poker and a bad run of cards can wipe out your entire bankroll if you don’t manage it properly. Standard bankroll management says that you should not put more than 5% of your entire roll in a single cash game or single table sit-n-go tournament and no more than 1% of your entire bankroll in a multi-table tournament.

Even the best players in the world would go broke in the long-run if they didn’t abide to these rules because of the natural variance of the game. The more buy-ins you have for a single game, the better and there is no such thing as being too conservative with your bankroll.

1. You are prone to tilting. 

Tilt is quite possibly the biggest bankroll killer in poker. Tilt occurs when your play deteriorates due to your emotional state.

This can result from a string of bad beats, losing big pots and not being in the right mental state during your poker session. During a session, there should be no other focus besides poker. Any lapse of focus can cost you money.

Tilt causes you to lose focus and concentration. You may begin to make bad decisions to chase losses or simply due to the fact that you are not playing level headed. You cannot be results oriented in poker. Being results oriented will make you disappointed when you lose a pot you were supposed to win. You have to focus on making the proper decision regardless of the outcome. Letting your emotions factor into your play at the tables will ultimately negatively effect your results.

 Work on eliminating mistakes to improve your overall game and bottom-line:

Solid winning players have put in a lot of time into studying the game and more importantly applying good strategy and observation to their play at the tables. They carefully analyze their play and are brutally honest with themselves about where their skill level compares to their opponents. They wont invest in games they know they simply cant show a profit in.

Simple mistakes will cost you money. Eliminating mistakes is essential for any aspiring player. In the long run, if you make less mistakes than your opponents, you will come out ahead. Poker is a long term game and should be treated that way.

Your results in the short term should have no effect on your emotional state if you can come to terms that eventually you will come out ahead if you are making correct decisions. Studying and evaluating your own play and eliminating the common traits of losing players will propel you in the right direction and net you a profit in the long run

More Poker Strategy:

The Poker Trance

Developing a LAG (Loose-Aggressive) Strategy for Maximum Profit

My Multi-Table Tournament Strategy

Booking the Win at Final Tables

Top 10 Reasons You Should Play Poker

How to Play AA For Maximum Profit

How to Overbet For Massive Value

Additional Strategy, Sports Betting:

The Three Tenets of Profitable Sports Betting



About TD
Live Consciously, Expand Your Awareness!

19 Responses to Top 5 Reasons Why You Lose at Poker

  1. Pingback: The Difference Between Professional Poker Players and Recreational Players | Sneaker Seeker

    • In my opinion, the most valuable skill to possess as a skilled player is having the ability to quit when not playing A+ game. Or lose in the long run. Very simple.

  2. Pingback: How to Manage a Poker Bankroll « Zazen Life

  3. This is a very good read. I’d love to post this article on our forum! Several of them, in fact. Thanks for writing these up…very helpful!

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  15. thatpokerguy says:

    DIESEL, I couldn’t agree with you more! So true. I also think that most of the players have a lack of postflop knowledge.

    • DIESEL says:

      Yeah I agree as well. When I first started out, I developed a pretty set pre-flop system that would see me probably folding 90% of my hands in a full ring game. As I developed, I began to open up my play and open more pots. Post-flop knowledge is critical if you want to play aggressive pre-flop. Knowing when to triple barrel (bet flop,turn,river) with absolutely nothing was something I was never willing to do. However, based on you opponents hand range and how he acts on each street might mean you have to go all in on the river as a bluff knowing most of the time he will probably fold. It is incredibly hard for an opponent to call every street with a less than premium hand. This of course means you might see some swings in your bankroll but as you develop, you can begin to see how much heat is necessary to take opponents off hands and win money on bluffs, not necessarily your monsters.

  16. thatpokerguy says:

    I think one of the main reasons players loose, (which you might have added) is the fact that a lot of players who just started playing don’t know what hands are good and what hands are bad in certain situations.
    For example – on cash table – 9max table UTG raises 3bb, Hero has ATs on the Button. Mathematically it is an auto-fold move. Because ATs doesn’t have enough value against UTG preflop raise.

    The range of open raise should be correlated with the position. Early position – More tight PFR, late position More loose PFR.

    And players don’t know how to play against certain type of opponents. AJ is a horrible hand against TAG player, however it is a value hand against LAG player.

    • DIESEL says:

      Yes of course, position is one of the most important things in poker. The ability to act after your opponent on each street is a massive advantage. Hand ranges do widen against LAGs and of course tighten against good TAGs. Every situation is different however and that needs to be taken into consideration. Table dynamics, players emotional states and meta-game (recent hands) all factor in to how you should gear your strategy for maximum profit. Most beginners due overvalue their hole cards like you said and they have trouble getting away from them and folding. If you want to be a profitable long-term player, you must develop patience and discipline otherwise one mistake can cost you your entire stack of chips.

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