Analyzing Your Poker Losses

Every lost hand is an opportunity to learn something at the poker table.

Yes, it stinks when you lose at poker. While losing at anything is pretty awful, in poker it can be a particularly annoying pain because you’re losing money and that’s a lot more personal, even if you’re employing the best possible bankroll management. When you lose, however, you get an opportunity to re-evaluate your game and come up with new approaches.

The Wrong Table?

Being “good at poker” is a relative statement. There’s always a better player than you and there’s always a worse player than you. A guy that regularly cleans up in a Friday night game hosted in a friend’s garage may find himself completely out of his depth at a tournament table in Vegas. Losing money at poker sometimes means that you’re just genuinely outclassed at the table. You can take this in one of two ways.

First: You need to find another game to play in. That one’s obvious enough.

Second: You need challenge yourself and improve. Provided that you actually learn something from your losses, you might be able to justify throwing away a bit of money on a table.

Bad Luck or Bad Play?

Sometimes, bad luck really is the reason that you’ve lost money at the tables. To figure out it if was bad luck or bad play, you’re going to have to be able to look at the loss in detail later. This is why having a pen and paper next to you when you play online poker can help, particularly in conjunction with your notes online and hand histories. Find out how you lost – who the player was who beat you? What did he beat you with?

Let’s say you’re dealt a pair of aces in a Texas Hold ‘Em game. The flop is garbage except for the fact there’s two Diamonds. You think that the one player that’s left after the flop goes down is aiming for a flush. You try to push him around in every betting round, but he stays in the game and catches his fifth diamond on the river, crushing your pair. This is a case of luck: he only had a 25% chance (give or take) of making the flush at each point in the game and a pair of aces is a lovely thing.

However, let’s take another situation: you’re given 7c8c and make a flush on the turn. You come out swinging and so does your opponent. You two exchange blows back and when you turn over your flush, he flips over Kc9c, crushing you. This is one of those situations where you should have reassessed your hand after the first real bet from your opponent.

In the first example, that was straight-up bad luck. In the second, you misplayed your hand by misreading the situation. Hey, we all get excited when the possibility of a flush comes up – it happens so infrequently that it’s worth celebrating, but you can’t let your excitement drag you under.

Assessing your losses and learning how your play can improve is more than just key to your poker game – it’s a foundation that can help you go from being a recreational player to one who invests in a game that rewards them back.