Bad Streaks Article

I'm currently in the middle of one of the worst slumps of my poker career, and it seems I can't catch a card and all my opponents are catching whatever they need to beat me. If I hadn't played for so many years now, I'd start to wonder if things would ever turn around.

Here's a perfect example of the way my luck has gone lately. I made the final table of a pot-limit hold em tourney last night, which made me happy because it's the first final table of a large-entry (this one happened to be 150 people) tourney I'd made in 2-3 weeks. Normally I make the final table of a tourney that big about a third of the time, and it had probably been about 25-30 tourneys since I'd made one. So I get to the table and I'm in a solid third place. The top two players are easily catchable, and there are two very short stacks. At this point the blinds are still low enough that I can play my normal tight-aggressive style, so I sit back and wait. The two shorties get eliminated fairly quickly by one of the stacks below me, so now I'm sitting in fourth with 7 players left.

The first hand after we get to 7 players I pick up KK on the button. One of the players with less chips than me raises ahead of me, and he was definitely not a player I'd think would have AA in that spot so I immediately re-raise. After two more re-raises, we're all-in. I was definitely correct in my assumption that I had him, as he flipped over AQ off-suit. We go to the flop and I get excited as it comes K-7-9 rainbow (all different suits). I figure I've got a set now and I'm money. Well, the poker gods reared their ugly head, and if you play a lot you know what's coming next. Yep, here comes the J on the turn and of course, the 10 on the river to give him the runner-runner straight. To his credit, he said he was sorry and I couldn't really fault him because he was pretty much pot-committed after the re-raises pre-flop.

So now I'm the short stack and the next hand, unbelievably, I pick up KK again. Again, the same guy raises ahead of me, and I re-raise all-in. This time he has AK, and then two of the players after me say they folded an A so he has one out (card left that can let him win) if he doesn't hit a straight or flush. We go to the flop and it doesn't help either of us, the turn is a blank, and then don't you know, the lone A comes on the river. In consecutive hands I've lost my whole stack to a runner-runner straight and a one-outer.

My best showing in a tourney in weeks and I have to go out like that. I did make a profit in the tourney (ended up with 5 times my buy-in), but to have played things perfectly and still lose just makes me sick.

This is the perfect example of the way my recent play has gone, just not at the final-table level, and is a true sign of a bad streak. Now, as I have been constantly telling myself, poker is all about making correct decisions, and I can take solace in the fact that it's just the luck factor that's beating me, not the fact that I'm playing poorly. I pride myself in the fact that I rarely go on tilt and can fold 10 hands in a row after a killer beat if I don't get the cards.

What smart poker players know is that with the thousands of hands they play, they are going to run into streaks like this. The key is to not get too down on yourself and keep plugging away. Sometimes it does a player some good to take a couple of days off to recharge the mind-set. I've done that twice in the past 2 weeks and I thought it would help, but as you can tell, it didn't. The thing not to do is to keep playing when you're frustrated or tired. I always play better earlier in the day when my mind is fresh. If I've had a bad day, I always want to fall into the trap of playing late at night to catch up, but it ends up just compounding the problem because I'm tired.

Here's the great thing about poker, and gambling in general, however: Just as soon as you get done with this horrible streak, you could run great for the next month. All the suckouts you've been receiving could turn into missed draws and double you up time after time. A profitable player is one who is going to ride these streaks as long as they can and make the winnings they receive during those times outweigh the losses they take during the bad runs.

Anyway, it's early in the morning, I've had a good night's sleep and hopefully today is the day I get over this bad streak and start the run of a lifetime!
Chris Goudey

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