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I'm a losing poker player that can't tell why?


Hey forum, maybe someone can help me. I've been reading, playing and practicing on this site for some time now. I go to the casino at play 1/2 no limit hold em almost every weekend. I DO NOT have a winning record and can't remember when I had a winning streak. I either lose, break even or win very little. On the hour ride home, I've decided to either find and fix my leaks or give up the game. Being that I love the game, I'm hoping someone can help me figure out how to find my weaknesses.


  • nytider

    I find APT to be VERY valuable, both in plugging leaks, and in identifying opportunities. But there are some other things that I think help as well.

    Talking about hands with other players is very helpful. I use my wife, my brother, and a poker buddy, who all have different styles and bring a slightly different perspective. And this dovetails into something else that I find beneficial, writing down key hands, especially ones where I may have played them wrong, or might be able to play them better.

    I also try to identify why I lost, not just that I lost. I think very specifically afterward about the range of starting hands I played, and from what position, how I managed my table image, how accurate I was in reading the ranges/hands of my opponents. I really like to walk away with some of the information that you get on APT from the session report.

  • kjstudentk

    I admire the honesty of your post flushed, which is why I'm going to take the time to give you a full and honest answer to the best of my ability.

    Here are a few areas of the game to look at to discover your leaks and why you're losing.

    1. Game selection.
      The most common reason I have found that players lose is that they are playing in the "wrong" game. This is a broad statement and can mean many things like; the rake is too high, their skill level compared to their opponents is too low and they are simply not competitive in the game they are playing, their style and technique is more geared towards cash games and they are playing in tournaments or vice versa, etc. Bottom line is they are playing in a game that can't be beat simply because they are in the wrong game to begin with.

    2. Skill set
      There are many skills to being a successful poker player. I've made my living playing the game for the last 15 years, but I remember the first 5 struggling and wondering if the game really could be beat. Many of the skills I needed I developed over time, but today's learning curve is so fast you really need to have a focused effort on each skill and develop it fully to be competitive in today's game. This is what makes APT so great, the software and tools are here to really improve your game rather quickly. Some skills you will need additional outside help, however.
      Look at these few skills I'll mention and try to get honest feedback from players your trust on where your rank;
      Game Selection, Hand Selection, Opponent selection (who you play against), Playing position, Taking the lead in the hand, 3-betting, Adapting play to opponents, Bet sizing, Hand ranging, Hand reading, Player Profiling, Record-keeping, etc. etc.

    3. Mindset
      Attitude, Determination and Discipline are important character traits that come out of strong mental conditioning. Mental Strength is a skill and it can be developed just like physical strength. It's one of the things I focus on in my coaching and would suggest getting a personal coach who is qualified to help you in this area as well as developing your playing technique.

    4. Bankroll Management
      While you learning to win, you have to learn to manage your losses. Don't start off thinking about winning as goofy as that sounds, it's too much of a challenge for someone who has been losing for so long. Instead, I would suggest trying to lose less. In doing so you will feel more encouraged by just measuring and seeing progress. Take pride in your progress, not just in your end result of a session and in the end you will get where you're going.

    Always remember, Success is a Journey, Not a destination -


  • pgearan

    I think another factor (similar to kj1218's #1) is that in 1-2 cash games and low buy-in tournaments (because of generally higher rakes and worse structures than higher buy-in tournaments) it is very difficult to be profitable. You have to play significantly better than the average player to make any money. I play mostly tournaments now, and look for the best structures I can get, but the card rooms easily reachable to me on weekly basis are based on the New Hampshire laws of a piece goes to charity, thus when you put that in and the bad beat rake, 22% comes off the prize pool. Then, as that does not include dealer tips, I am often tipping around 6%-8% of what I win. So if I am basically trying to stay ahead of this 30% take of room and dealers, very challenging. I really have to money 25% of the time and have a few large cashes in a year just to break even.

    When I played 1/2 cash, I did some calculation of how much of my $300 buy-in is going to the house/dealer tips just by being there. Playing tight and fewer hands helps but it can be staggering to think how much goes out. Another thing to look at next time you start at a newly formed table where everyone started with their original stack. After 2 hours, how many players are up? Sometimes you look around and everyone is down and you get struck by just how painful the rake is at the lowest stakes.

    I basically look at it as training/entertainment money. I am an amateur who likes to play poker instead of golf, and poker, if I can win at a decent rate, can be a break even or a small profit/loss situation. If I play 60 poker tournaments a year and get an average of 5-6 hours of entertainment for $10 per session when everything is balanced, yes I'm down $600 but I would have spend a lot more in many other avocations. I hope to be better and have a better stake some day so I can play better tournaments and higher blind cash games, but dropping $50/month for my enjoyment and increasing my skill is fine with me now.

    Ask yourself why you are doing it right now: 1)are you trying to make money or 2) are you just trying to get better at an activity you really enjoy and make sure you play within your means.

    If it is #2, then just make sure you don't lose more than is OK for your lifestyle. If you are enjoy, identify weaknesses in live games or through APT training, and monitor improvement toward lower losses and eventual profitability.

  • mactheknifem

    Some important math: Some on line regulars are playing 10 games an hour, 100 hands per game, 10 hours a day six days a week using tracking software that makes their computer screen look like Mission control. That's 60,000 hands per week. The tacking software reveals much about the game that you won't learn live.

  • highfive

    The answers are little more than you need I think.
    Search a 9 max live starting hand chart. Know what hands you are going to play from each position with the given action BEFORE you go to the casino. You will be ahead of most 1-2 players if you do it.
    Play tight. Playing 1 hand per round is 22% of hands dealt.
    Play in position. Almost never play a hand from early position without a premium hand.
    These ideas are very restrictive and that's my point. You can add more to your game as you learn.

    If you love the game, study it. Build your game over time.

  • pocketpairp
    edited January 2018

    Hi Flushed, Thanks for your very open and honest post. I am a relative newcomer to NLH (<3 months NLH - But 30+ yrs casino blackjack) and have also had issues with learning how to play well and how to win. So, instead of trying to tell you how to improve your game, I will share what I have done to improve my game and maybe you can find a few ideas that will help you.

    I started playing WSOP play money about 3 months ago and also began reading poker books (Sklansky, Brunson, Harrington, et al.) After the 1st month I joined APT and PokerStars play money and began winning cash games consistently. After the 2nd month I opened an Ignition Poker account and began playing the 5NL cash game Mon-Fri at 9am. I was surprised to learn that instead of the "school of fish" promised by so many poker educators, that I found a group of ~20 regulars that play pretty solid poker. After a few weeks I was down 2 buy-ins and was a little frustrated, so I did some research. I learned that cash games are best played by players with lots of deep stack experience and have good post-flop skills. Since I was a relative newbie, I thought it might be a good time for me to explore short duration low cost tournaments.

    After checking the Ignition tournament board I learned that Ignition offered 6-Max Hypers and 9-Max Sit n Go's for a $1 buy-in. I played both and finished 3/6 in the 6-Hyper and 1/9 in the 9-SNG. I also learned that I enjoyed playing tournaments much more than cash games. So I have now come to the conclusion that on-line 1NL 9-SNG is the best place for me to "learn how to play" and "learn how to win" on Ignition. I have since played about a dozen 9-SNGs and have an ROI of +10%.

    For me - Finding the right niche to learn, play and experience success was critical to my growth in poker. I plan to continue playing 9-SNGs, practicing with APT software, reading books and watching videos to improve. I hope to move up in a few months and will probably give the 5NL cash game another try when I have more post-flop experience. Overall, the primary lesson I learned through this short poker experience is this - If I am studying and practicing and my poker buddies rarely let me win, I go find new buddies to play poker with!

    Hope this helps and good luck on your poker journey.

  • magicjack69

    best thing to do is take the group coaches advice for 10,000 hands at min and see how its done.....then set the coaching on the setting to show up when they disagree with you choice this point ......STOP.....SLOW DOWN .....AND.......START THINKING Y?

    use the brain and starting looking at why they disagree with this enough times and I promise the light bulb will go off

    I was in the same spot as you...I was break even at best to loosing player...paid for over 5 poker sites and two hands on coaches and still completely didn't get it

    honestly I damn near quite the was my love over the money that brought me back but lets face it....winning is nice

    once I found APT and watched all its videos on how to use the site.....I became a winning player with the correct confidence that i needed to play in live games.

    the site is so good i dropped all other training sites and coaches and this is all i use now and i believe it may be all i may ever need...

    also use the shared hands in this forum section to talk it over with members...that's the next biggest thing you can do

  • magicjack69

    the quickest fix is playing less hands... in my begging of being profitable I honestly got so tight I played 8% of hands I advanced with the help of this site have been able to play up to 30% and be a winner in the long run.....its advice to play between 15-25% to be profitable

    some hands just will never be profitable.

  • kmillerk

    Being a casual player, you should not expect to win a significant amount of money just from playing a few sessions, and also you have to improve your skillset and take the time to learn continuously.

    I too play casually and I am no hardcore pro. I try learn by myself by watching tutorial videos, watching videos of online poker pros in action, and reading as much as I can about the game.

    I am currently visiting as they have a good amount of freerolls (if you are like me who don't like to spend money to learn poker) from time to time. They have a good list of poker rooms there including PokerStars, 888 poker, Partypoker, Unibet, Ignition Poker, and many more.

    Their newest poker room partner site is Coolbet, and I like their freeroll offers. They currently have a free bonus (€5) and a €730 freeroll (end of this month) on Coolbet, but only for players from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia and Finland...

    If any of you know any other poker room that has a good freeroll offer, please share it with us here!

  • fletcher23f
    edited March 2018

    You also need to think about the actual volume of hands you're playing.

    Say you play 3 hours every Saturday. That's about 80-90 hands, probably. That's nothing.

    Also, a very small number of hands can make a huge difference in your win rate, when dealing in that kind of volume. One suck-out that costs you a $150 pot has a big impact. Also, there are other ways to run bad that you don't think of: you get AA and no one else has anything, and they fold preflop; you flop a set and no one else has anything to pay you off; your AK's make a pair 1 of 10 times instead of 3 of 10 like they should, and the 1 time it does, someone else gets 2 pair.

    We tend to think of good luck in terms of getting big hands and bad luck as being sucked out on, but there are a ton of other little subtle ways in which you can make the right decisions and lose, or win less than you should (and winning less than you should is the same as losing).

    These things are all luck, not really indicative of doing anything wrong, but they can have a big impact on your win rate in the short term. It takes hundreds and hundreds of hours for that stuff to even out.

    This is not to say there aren't things in your game you need to fix. There undoubtedly are. This is just to say that you should be conscious of how these luck elements impact your win rate, and don't allow yourself to get discouraged. Just try to make the right decisions as often as possible, and enjoy yourself.

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