How To End Poker Losing Streaks


Is it the donkey's fault you lost?

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Extended Tilt

Some may accuse their current losing streak to "bad beats" or "donkeys making incorrect calls." While you can blame one loss to a donkey, an entire losing session cannot be blamed on the "bad player." In online poker you can simply tag your opponent as a donkey, write down some notes about his playing style - does he draw to inside straights, does he always draw to flushes, etc - then adjust your play accordingly. If you know he loves to draw and has been getting lucky lately adjust your betting patterns when you're up against him. Yes, a bet of half the pot should chase away anyone with half a brain from chasing a straight or flush but clearly this guy doesn't know any better so adjust your bets to protect your stack.

What's really going on during a poker player's losing streak is a term I have coined called "extended tilt." Extended tilt happens when a player has suffered a bad beat and is now fuming over their loss. The ability to read opponents goes right out the window and betting strategies are altered.

Unlike tilt, which occurs for only a short period of time, say a session, extended tilt sticks with you for hours, days or even months. Your brain is still thinking about your loss, even if you're not trying to. Your hand selection changes. While it's hard to define exactly how your selection will change (tight players may get tighter, loose players may get even looser or vice versa) there will be a change associated with your hand selection.

As hand selection has now changed, you'll either

  • Lose pots you would have never been in
  • Not win pots you typically would have played in

Either way, you'll continue to steam and the tilt will only get worse....

Overcoming extended tilt

You will continue on your losing streak until you overcome your current perspective of poker. Your brain needs time to move past your loss before you can start making correct decisions again.

If you're a casual poker player the easiest thing to do here is to take a break. Stop playing for a few days, a week, even a month. Focus on your other hobbies.

For semi-professional poker players taking that long of an extended break is not possible. In that case simply focus on other hobbies for a little bit. The time frame between a semi-professional and a casual player recovering from tilt should exponentially be shorter as semi-pros have seen and suffered many more "bad beats" than that of the casual player.

The main key here is to stop thinking about what has happened to you. Once you've forgotten your hand selection should return to normal as should your ability to read opponents. Bad beats happen, its part of the game. But when its the way you played your opponent that caused you to lose you can't really consider it a bad beat...

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Comments 5 comments

jtrawinski 6 years ago from NY

Good read

jstankevicz profile image

jstankevicz 6 years ago from Cave Creek

Poker losing steaks can certainly be self perpetuating. I find that tightening up my game helps. Decide to only play premium situations; keeps you out of more hands, and gives you a chance to cool down, watch the game, and get your perspective back. At a casino, changing tables and faces helps me to break repetitive bad decisions. "extended tile", good name for it and good article.

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Dimpledan 6 years ago from Weston, Fl

thanks for your comments on my hub page. I like your hub and info.


Guy 4 years ago

yea right, so what r u suppose to do when u got two pairs on the flop, the guy goes all in on pocket JJ, then on the river he hits a second pair on the board? oh, and this happened 3 times within 20 minutes.

pokergod 4 years ago

guy if u have 2 poor 2pairs you should not even be playing them cards im on massive tilt atm but normaly i only play nut flushes like ace of clubs dims hearts or spades pocket pairs from 2pocket pairs to 8pocketpairs

min raise or flat call if som1 has raised anything higher i raise or reraise and jj and qq are normaly 4x 5x blinds kk or aa is a push u see a lot of people push with ak or aq or aj there light raising hands never push with them

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