I have been running pretty bad recently, I now feel that I have started to play worse as a result. What do you think is the best way to reset yourself so you can start to play better?

  • Running bad......... dropped from 28M to 500 in 15minutes though Playing online but still it was about $5K real money.
    – user851
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 13:09

4 Answers 4


Oftentimes, the reason bad luck leads to bad play is because of a pyschological need to get back to even faster than you should statistically be able to. If you normally win on average $10/hour, and you just had a 3 day losing streak where you lost $1000, you may not have the patience to play 100 hours to win back that $1000. Subconsciously you will involuntarily try to get it back faster, and that means you may find yourself entering pots you normally wouldn't because they are abnormally large, or limping with far too many hands, or calling low EV bets hoping for a lucky card... I.E, you will play worse trying to race against time. As Jeffrey Blake stated, one way to fix this is to simply stop playing long enough for the desire to get even to wear off. For me, after really big loses, regardless of the reason, I found that two weeks was about right for me to stop caring about the big loss.

Another thing that helps is to drop down to much lower stakes than you usually play. The stakes have to be low enough that there is no possible way you can make back your recent losses. This has a similar effect to not playing at all because once your mind has accepted the fact that you can't get even at these stakes, it won't trick you into making the mistakes I mentioned above, and you can get back to focusing on odds, EV, and reading people.


I always ramp up my review efforts when I am running bad. At minimum, I will double the portion of my time spent studying and reviewing hands. I also run them by other players I trust.

During extended down runs, I find that I may end up needing to take some time away from the tables to unwind and get my head straight. That could be a day or two, or it could be as long as a week. It is like any other vocation: sometimes you need a vacation to perform optimally.


I know the feeling I have been playing well for months but always seem to be on the end of bad beats. I use HEM2 and most of the tournaments I play I am finishing +EV but not cashing.

I tend to do one of two things when I am on a run like this:

  1. Take a break for a few days, keep studying and reading forums like this, but stay away from the tables.

  2. Change site. I have done this a couple of times where I was just running so bad I withdrew my bankroll and redeposited it on another site.

The important thing to do is to keep playing your normal game. Don't adjust it if it was previously working. The chances are its just varience.


Firstly, you must know that competence (high win-rate) and volume are the only real enemies of running bad and downswing.

Secondly, I recommend you the book The Mental Game of Poker, written by Jared Tendler. You will find many things about tilt and all the psychological aspects related to the game of poker.

Thirdly, you must know that going through a bad run will make you mentally stronger for the future and the next bad run won't appear as bad as the previous one. I had a 70k break even stretch at Zoom Poker NL10 on PokerStars. It took me a while to get back together but now I feel (and I am) unstoppable ar NL10 FR.

It is "normal" to play worse when you run bad. It is already known and proven millions of times by now. There are a few things you can do, in order, depending on how mentally tough you are:

  1. Keep playing. If you're strong, a good idea is to keep playing. You'll get mentally stronger, you won't get out of the bad run if you don't play. Lastly, you'll get closer to getting rakeback, bonuses, etc., which can help you;
  2. Analyze your play. Was it really a bad run or a situation that seems like a cooler, but it was deriven by your play? The bad part of a bad run is that you find nothing new about the opponent, while he finds out new things about you;
  3. Study poker theory. You might re-learn a thing or two what you forgot.
  4. Look at the big picture. You are now in a bad run, but in the past you were a winner at your games, right?
  5. Take a longer break. A week should be enough.

Further reading is on PokerStrategy and on 2p2.

I hope it helped you.

One more thing: no matter if you're running good or bad, always keep your win rate high. Kills variance.

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