9 Reasons Why You Will Never Make Money Playing Poker

I’m sure some of you might ask yourself the question of “Why do I lose all the time?”. I got this divine inspiration to write an honest post about what I see people doing that ruin their chances of becoming winning poker players. Mostly it’s because you refuse to be honest with yourself, the blocks are entirely mental.

I strongly believe anyone can become a solid poker player and make a living doing it, but it takes work and it takes DETERMINATION. I know some that are in it for the money and it apparently is a strong motivator for them, when I started playing I liked playing poker, but I also liked making money. I had a kind of mix and that kept me interested.

Nowadays when I play 8 tables and my only goal is to make money I feel bored, there is no passion in the game. Sure, I still learn if I focus, but I prefer playing less tables. In that way I can get reads on opponents, I can adapt my play and I can play real poker that is challenging and fun for me.

Why then, do some of you never become the players you can be?

1. Fooling Yourself

Are you constantly fooling yourself? “Poker is all luck and these fishies don’t know what they’re doing”. You constantly get “bad beats” and that’s why you can’t win at poker. You may even blame the card rooms for your bad luck.

Does this sound familiar? If it does, then you are absolutely fooling yourself.

Bad players are what make it possible to win at poker, you have to embrace the bad beats because when people are sucking out on you, you are making money in the long run. If you can keep going then you will win, but if you just play bad and blame it on luck then odds are that you will never make money playing poker.

2. Playing the Ego Game

What about ego, do you get in emotional battles at the poker table? If you answered yes, then this is another obstacle in your way to becoming an excellent poker player. Don’t think I am saying that you have no chance of becoming a winning poker player, because if you are honest with yourself and work on your game, you have a phenomenal chance of doing so.

Your chances go way down if you get into pissing matches at the poker table. You have to keep your cool and be rational about how players are playing, what are their hand ranges? How can you adapt? If you only believe someone is doing something then that is often not enough, you have to see some showdowns, you have to see his hand so you can make a proper assessment of how he plays.

If you’re thinking “I’m going to get this guy because he sucked out” or anything similar, you’re in big trouble.

3. Not Putting in Enough Time

You can’t expect to become a winner if you don’t put in the study time. What is enough time? I can only tell you how much time I put in before I started to win.

I started around 2004 and after 5-6 months I was making ~$2,000 a month. During those 5-6 months I probably put in at least 3-4 hours everyday of reading forums, annoying people with my questions and reading all the books I could get my hands on.

That should give you a perspective on what it could take. Keep in mind, that was my journey, yours will most likely be completely different. What’s important is that you put in the time and be persistent, results will come if you keep working at your game.

4. Neglecting Coaching and Help

I know quite a few players who blame bad luck and whine about how they’ve run bad for the past 6-12 months and I tell them to get coaching or send me their last 500 hands so I can look through them. And what happens?

They refuse because they know they’re playing bad poker. Why would you want to do this to yourself? Is your goal to whine for the rest of your life?

If you want to become a winner you have to be willing to show your mistakes to coaches and other poker players to discuss how you can improve. If you keep losing you HAVE to figure out WHY, only then can you make progress.

5. Tilting Your Money Away

You might be one of those players who play really well until you get a few bad beats. You then proceed to throw a few buy-ins away and get pissed because you’re so unlucky. Guess what, you’re as lucky as anyone else, but you’re throwing your money away but not keeping your composure.

In the end, you are the one responsible for your results.

Learn to meditate, do yoga or anything that helps you minimize tilt. You can start by quitting INSTANTLY when you feel any of those tilty feelings come up. If you keep going you are just giving your money away, avoid doing this at all cost!

6. Money Management

Are you constantly playing in games where you are 2 buy-ins from being broke? Then you have a money management issue, you have to start making specific rules and making sure you never go broke, because if you go broke and gamble foolishly then you have no money to play with (pretty obvious isn’t it? ;) ).

Start by having at least 20 buy-ins for the level you play, preferably 30 buy-ins. So if you’re playing $0.5/$1.00 No-Limit Hold’em, you would need $3,000 if you’re following the 30 buy-in rule and whenever you drop below that $3,000, even if it is to $2,999 you move down to $0.25/$0.50 to get back to 31 buy-ins for $0.5/$1.00 and then go back.

7. Game Selection

This usually isn’t a problem for beginning players as the games at the micro or low stakes are pretty good, meaning that you never have to use game selection. But when you reach stakes like $1/2 No-Limit Hold’em you have to start being picky. That means leaving games that are bad (i.e. you won’t make any profit in them) or just not playing when the games are bad.

It’s tempting to keep sitting in a game when you’re losing to get unstuck, but this is just backwards if you want to make money. Set a stop-loss, if you lose 3 buy-ins you quit playing until you’ve regained your calm.

And when you’re winning you should play longer sessions because your table image is such that you will win more pots easily and generally have an easier time. On the contrary, when you have a bad image other players will take more shots at you and bluff you at a more difficult frequency, thus lowering your win rate and if the game has gone bad you might even be a loser for that session, because of your impaired judgment, table image and the table line-up.

8. Trying to Outplay People

This should go into the Ego category, but I decided to give it its own office space. This is very prevalent in today’s online games, players are paranoid that you’re making a move on them so they will call you down very loosely. And it kind of works against the bad aggressive players, because they bluff too much and are too paranoid about anyone bluffing them.

If you put one of these paranoid players vs. a good thinking player then he will get crushed, because the good thinking player will adapt to his looseness.

This is another reason why you have to play tight solid poker in today’s games and when you learn new things you add them into your game, you do not and I repeat DO NOT start playing all those speculative hands like 97 suited out of position because you think you can outplay other players.

Avoid being that player who plays hands because he thinks he can outplay everyone and thus making the hand profitable.

9. Failing to Adapt

You cannot play a mechanical game if you want to win decent money playing poker. Poker is about people and that means you have to adapt to be able to win.

If someone is playing too loose you adapt by, for example value betting them more. You have to learn how to adapt vs. different players and this knowledge or should I say wisdom comes from mainly experience and partly having someone to discuss these concepts with.

I hope this post will help you realize if you have any flaws in your game and propel you to take action. Because if you do not see your mistakes, how can you ever get rid of them? Magic? Possible, but unlikely.

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Add Your Comment (5) ↓

#1 Alex Kay on 10.16.07 at 11:52 am

“You can’t expect to become a winner if you don’t put in the study time.” That is a great quote. Poker is all about patience, and this really sums it up. Keep up the good work!

#2 thibaut on 05.10.10 at 3:23 pm

I usualy play for nothing more tan €50 buyin blinds 10/20 – 25/50
this week i went to a casino buyin €100, blinds €2/€2.
I lost my €100 in 10minutes. i had a straight A to 5 the other donkey had a straight 2 to 6. he was playing 26 under the gun :s i walked around for 3 hours and rebuyed me in for €50, after 1 hour i had €120, i wanted to go home but i sat on the bigblind and looked at my cards, 10 J of diamonds, everybody limped, i raised to €12, 3 callers, i floped a gutshot royalflushdraw, i raised €10, an infobet, 1 man called, turn was no diamond no king, i raised €20, the guy counted his chips, he had about €250, and put me all in for €75.. i had to catch a diamond or a K to win the hand. beacause it was so late and the pot was nice i called, he asked if an ace was enough, and i showed him my draw, river din’t help me. the next day i lost €100 at a cashgame at my place. i keept flopping flushes and double pair but i was always beat somehow. since then i cant win a hand anymore..
what do i have to do? stop for a while?
btw nice blog!

#3 George on 01.04.12 at 2:15 am

I agree with what you have writen, but what if you get consecutive bad beats that make you lose quite some money? Listen to my story, i have been playing poker for a little less than a year and i have studies the game quite much, read books and such, you know. With some friends i was forming tables and i had profit in the long run, but we were playing with quite a few €, from 2 € up to 5 € and in rare cases up to 10. I assure you i m not a bad player, i am calm and don’t go arround playing every hand and i adapt my style when needed.

Anyway here is my story, a couple of months ago, i decided to go to a poker club with a friend. With 1€ big blind and the minimum buy in was 30€. Since it was our first time we decided to enter with 30€ and anyway, i got only a few good hands, folded wisely many times and about 2 times i got a good hand i managed to get as much money as i could, but still, after nearly 2 hours of playing i had about 20€. Anyway, there was a guy at the table that was just a gabler, who enter with more than 100€ and playing completly random and very aggresively. I lost all my money from him because in the flop i got a top pair with a very good kicker, he had the second best pair, but at the river he managed to have a second pair.

Anyway, that wasn’t the best first experience but it didn’t matter for me that much, though some time passed to go to a poker club again. The second time was like a joke! I entered with 50€ and for more than 2 hours i hadn’t win even once! My chips had been reduced more because of the blind than because of the loses. I was playing calmely though and i could have easily lost all of them far earlier with some bad calls. All the times that i had quite good hands like AQ suited and i raised, the flop was each time as bad as it could be. I have to mention here that only about 2 of the players there new how to play, most of them had moved from tables of gambling games and called raises 4 times the big blind with things like 6 4 off suit. At the end i was left with 2 €, put them at a single hand and managed to reach 9€, my first win! I was like, now with a couple of good hands i could cover the money i lost! At exactly the next turn, i got QQ, raised, called by 3 guys, flop was all low cards, one guy bet and i went all in, and what happened was that someone managed to get a flush from the turn and the river with a hand he shouldnt even call at pre flop! I was like, damn, that was unlucky, i guess i someone, from the results of the 2 times i went to a poker club, whould say that i m quite a fish, u know it wasn’t just about the money, though it did hurt my wallet.

And here is the third and last time i visited the poker club, which was a few days ago. I entered with 50€ and lost them all in about 10 minutes!!! As soon as we began i got QQ and i raised, a couple of people called, there was an A at the flop, the first one bet, the other one raised and i was like better fold now and so i did, that was the right desicion. At exactly the next hand i got QQ again!! Now that was rare, i was sure i was about to get paid of this time. Raised, 3 or 4 people called, and at the flop all the cards were low but there were possibilities 2 spades, so i bet enough money to not give the chance for someone to get a flush and got called by a couple of players. The turn was very bad, it was a K of spades, a guy bet a lot of money, next guy (who had 2 pairs went all in and i folded. That left me with something more than 30€. Long story short, i didn’t play in the next 3 turns and then, up till the turn there were 3 cards of hearts and i had a flush with a K, at the river i went all in againt 1 player and he had a flush to the A!! That was beyond unlucky, that was just frustating.

So anyway, i don’t know what do do man, i m not rich or somethin, get about 250€ a month (i m 19 years old) so it hit my wallet pretty hard, but it is not just about the money, i can’t find any determination any more to play poker. The last time i was thinking that if it was that i lost because i was unlucky the last 2 times, then i just had to get some profit to at least prove it to my self. Don’t know what to do, the thought of losing all my money the 4th time i go to play again is so embarassing that i just can’t go to play again. What do you advice me to do? Losing all my money all the times i went to play poker with proper money is so much more frustating than being extremely unlucky at just one night. Sorry for making you read such a big post, but i m pretty frustated see. Please e-mail me to give me advices about how to handle situations like that and what to do cause i m really on the verge of quiting right now, which would mean that all the time i had spend studying this game would just be wasted.

#4 www.bonus2poker.com on 02.20.12 at 5:25 pm

I would of imagined that, not putting in enough time was first. So many people go full out and go all in on the first couple of hands to try get the upper hand on people or try scare them out of the game. Although they don’t realise 9/10 times someone will have a good hand and go all in with you.

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