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I keep losing at Online Poker?

guy laliberte, a poker player What can you do if you keep losing at online poker?

The good news is that at least you are aware of losing and you want to improve. There are a lot of players who are delusional about their results and refuse to admit that they are consistently losing.

Each of us plays online poker for our own reasons, and winning money is not necessarily the top priority. Poker is a fun game and if you love this entertainment while losing money that you can afford to lose, it is fine.

But if you are reading this article, you probably want to know how to stop losing at online poker.

Do you want to stop losing at online poker?

Simple. You must change! The only way to solve this problem is to change. There is a so-called "formula for change" which summarizes this well.

You need to have D x V x F > R, where D measures your dissatisfaction, V measures your vision of where you want to be, F represents the first steps leading to the vision, and R is your resistance level.

Let us clarify this formula. There are four components. D is dissatisfaction. If you are not dissatisfied enough, nothing will happen. V is vision. You must have a clear vision of where you want to be in online poker within a given horizon.

Where do you want to be 6 months from now? You can define this vision with respect to your monetary results. One easy goal is to become a breakeven poker player within 3 or 6 months.

F stands for the first steps leading to change and we discuss this later in the article. But before that, there is a hurdle to leap over, called R in the formula. How much resistance do you have to change? Do you have old habits deeply ingrained in your psyche or do you have a flexible personality? This makes changing easier or harder.

First step to reduce online poker losses

The first steps necessary to change from where you are now to where you want to be in 6 months depend on your personal circumstances. What are the most common reasons for losing at Online Poker? Here is a list of the usual suspects:

  1. Alcohol: you play under the influence
  2. Distraction: you play while doing other things
  3. Action: you play mostly for fun & excitement
  4. Emotional: you let your emotions control you
  5. Discipline: you do not follow the plan
  6. Wealth: you do not care about losing the money

All of the items in the list can be corrected except item 6. If you are very wealthy, it is extremely hard to become a profitable poker player because losing money at the virtual table does not really hurt you. The billionaire Guy Laliberte depicted on top of the page is rumored to have lost 18 million dollars in 2008, but this is not going to affect his lifestyle, is it?

Item 1 & 2 relate to your setup when you play. If you fall into these categories, be aware that playing either with alcohol in your blood or with distractions around you such as television will always hinder your results.

If you are serious about poker, stay sober and fully focused while playing if you want to stop losing at online poker. If you feel thirsty or want to watch Tiger Woods' golfing prowess on the TV, just disconnect from the virtual tables. You can always come back later.

Generally speaking, items 3, 4 & 5 are the most common factors plaguing online poker players. If you want to make money at online poker, you must have a plan and you must follow the plan without deviation.

So for most people reading this article, the pivotal question is F, the first steps of the plan. The first step on the road to profitable poker is the so-called ABC style of poker. Play mostly in a straightforward manner avoiding fancy play. You can find plenty of relevant articles in our strategy and leak sections, as they teach such a solid poker methodology.

Learn the ropes first. If you apply a solid ABC strategy, you cannot lose large sums of money playing online poker at the low-limits.

More steps to reduce online poker losses

ABC poker means first that you should follow a tight-aggressive style. Tight means to be very selective with the hands that you decide to play, aggressive means that you should prefer betting or raising to calling. This is summarized through the so-called VPIP/PFR/AG statistics.

Use poker-tracking software such as Holdem Manager, which let you monitor your statistics and highlight potential leaks in your game. Study optimal play and make the necessary adaptation to your game.

Let us take for example the most frequent source of loss at online poker, calling too much. In full ring No-Limit Texas Hold'em cash games, it is recommended to have VPIP between 10 & 20%; if your VPIP is 50%, you cannot be profitable. This is a low hanging fruit, as you just need to establish a much more stringent starting hand requirement chart.

Check out our leak section for the top ten online poker leaks. If you can make sure none of them apply to you, then you will have made a very big leap toward stopping to lose at online poker. Beyond ABC poker and plugging leaks, there are other more insidious reasons for losing.

Use proper bankroll management. Your bankroll in poker is the money specifically and exclusively allocated to online poker. Bankroll management means that you have to play the limits that your bankroll permits.

Typically in no limit hold'em your bankroll needs to be between 3,000 & 5,000 times the big blind that you play. So if you have $5k, you can play $0.50/$1 NLHE, but playing $1/$2 puts your entire bankroll at risk.

Playing at the correct limit means that if you have lost money, you must move down to a lower limit. In our previous example, if you lose half your bankroll or $2.5K, you must move down to $0.50/$1. Failing to do so is a serious error that will lead to recurrent losses.

If you manage to be profitable at the lower limit, you can then move up in limit. Moving up and down as your bankroll increases and decreases is the secret for minimizing online poker losses.

Finally we would like to remind you of the biggest source of online poker losses: tilt. Tilt is your most dangerous enemy in poker as it can lead to humongous losses.

Make controlling tilt your number one priority and your online poker losses will diminish.


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