70% of Poker Players Lose. Here's How to Not Be One of Them.

Losing poker players
I have heard conservative estimates many times that at least 70% of poker players lose in the long run after the rake is taken out.

And I believe it. In fact, I think it might even be higher!

This is crazy though. Why do so many people lose at this silly little card game? How can it be so hard to beat incredibly low stakes like NL2 and NL5 online or $1/$2 live in particular?

Well, I am going to give you 5 reasons why (and how you can avoid repeating these same mistakes), in this article.

1. It's All in Your Head (Seriously)

I am going to let you in on a little secret right now that all of those 30% of winning poker players aready know. And that is that this game is almost all between your ears.

It's what you think, it's not even about the strategy so much anymore.

The reason why is because almost everybody plays at least "ok" these days. It is hard to find the completely clueless fish anymore playing way too many hands and calling with any two cards.

So this is why the edges are a lot smaller these days and what is now considered a good poker win rate is much lower than what it used to be.

So this is why the real battle these days is how you handle the never-ending ups and downs that poker will throw at you.

And here's the truth. Most people still handle it terrible. Yes, even in today's supposedly "tough" games.

Most people who you play poker with are complete and utter fish at handling bad beats, coolers and keeping themselves off tilt. This goes for many mid and even high stakes players as well.

A lot of them don't even realize it because much of it manifests as something I call "micro tilt." This is slowly bleeding away buyin after buyin with another bad river call for example.

If you can solve this one simple little aspect of your game, you win. It's all in your head.

2. Eliminate Fundamental Mistakes

Ok, let's be honest though, not everyone is exactly a world beater these days. Especially if we are talking about super low stakes online or live.

There are still many people at these limits who make fundamental errors that end up costing them big-time.

One of the most common spots where this shows up is preflop. And this is also one of the easiest to fix as well.

The reason why is that preflop is largely something that you should be able to memorize in No Limit Texas Hold'em. In other words, it should be automatic, you shouldn't even have to think about it.

You should never make fundamental preflop errors like in this video for instance. Because it creates what I call the "snowball effect."

This snowball effect of bad preflop decisions literally ensures that many people cannot win at this game. They beat themselves before they even begin.

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3. Do Not Play in Terrible Games

Poker is a game played between people. Sure, the house collects a small fixed "rake" from everybody but technically you are not in direct competition with them.

Your competition instead is everyone else that is seated at your poker table.

So this is why one of the absolute best things that you can do to start winning at poker consistently is to simply start playing in better poker games.

There should always be several players who play much worse than you and ideally everybody does.

Because here's the thing, if you choose to keep playing in games where everybody plays pretty good, then you don't have an edge.

And this in turn means that you won't win.

But the bad news doesn't stop there because even if you manage to break-even against all these good players, once the rake is taken out, yup you guessed it, you lose.

Once again, the vast majority of poker players today are absolutely complete fish when it comes to playing in good games. And it is a huge part of the reason why they lose.

Those 30% of poker players who are winning don't think like this though. They treat poker table selection like it is their job.

4. Teach Yourself to Play Consistently

The next reason why most people fail to win at poker is because they do not play consistently.

In fact, some people are so busy talking about the game (or gossiping about professional players) on places like 2+2 or Reddit, that they barely even play any poker at all!

Don't be like these guys.

Ya they all sound like geniuses when they are blabbing on about the latest "game theory optimal" way to play or whatever nonsense.

But the truth is that most of them have no actual poker results! They just waste time online trying to one up each other on how vast their poker knowledge is.

Last time I checked making thousands of posts on an internet message board or Reddit isn't paying so well these days either.

Look, the only way you are going to start making a real profit in this game is if you start playing poker consistently. And by that I mean every single day.

Losing poker player

This is how I and many other professional poker players cut our teeth in this game. We didn't get good results by endlessly talking about poker or studying the latest new fad "theory."

And don't get me wrong, I am not saying that studying poker isn't important to improve your poker game.

It absolutely is.

But the most important reason why we got good results was because we put in crazy amounts of hours at the poker tables. We learned by doing, not talking.

When Phil Ivey was first coming up in poker they used to call him "No Home Jerome" because he would literally sleep at the casino!

Now he is one of the best poker players in the world with over $45 million dollars in lifetime winnings. I actually just reviewed his new poker training course, right here.

5. A Disciplined Poker Player is a Winning Poker Player

The final reason why at least 70% of people do not win at poker in the long run is because they lack the most important trait necessary to succeed in this game, discipline.

Give me discipline and work ethic over natural born talent all day long.

Because if you can't learn to keep your composure at the poker tables, put in the hours and stick to the program no matter what, then it doesn't even matter how much of a phenom you are.

The best poker players in the world have incredible amounts of skill, gamble and natural talent, don't get me wrong. But they also know when to hit the brakes.

They know when they are in a fight that they cannot win. They know that you cannot win every pot in this game.

If you want to be in that 30% of long term winning poker players then you need to start working on becoming a more disciplined poker player right now at the micro stakes in particular.

Losing poker player

Because this is the truth that the rest of them won't tell you. But you all know that I keep it real on this website.

And here is that ugly little truth once again:

Most of the time poker is incredibly boring, tedious, monotonous and feels eerily similar to a job. This is if you want to win of course.

If you just want to be a fish and lose all your money, then poker is a fun and exciting thrill ride just like the heavily edited million dollar final tables that they show you on TV.

Go ahead and makes all kinds of wild bluffs and loose calls. Play all sorts of garbage hands out of position and tilt like crazy whenever you want! Let me know how this strategy works out for you as well!

Real (winning) poker by comparison is about making yet another sick fold with your overpair, even when you are getting absolutely crushed, because you know that the nit is never bluffing.

It is about being patient enough to wait for the right hand only to get bounced out just before the final table, yet again.

Lastly, it is about calling it quits when it clearly isn't your day. And it is about showing up again tomorrow (and the next day and the next day) with the same attitude of discipline and ultimately, success.

This is what real poker players do and it is anything but glamorous.

If you want to learn much more on the mindset required to win over the long run in this game, check out my best selling book, Crushing the Microstakes.

I have some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the micro stakes and I discuss how I developed the discipline and patience to achieve that.

Final Thoughts

At least 70% of people who play poker will walk away with less money than they started with in the end.

And that is pretty crazy when you think about it. Roulette and blackjack players typically win more often than this!

But the beautiful thing about poker is that it is always within your control to change your fate. You can absolutely decide to be in that 30% of people who actually turn a profit in this game.

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Heck, you can be in that even more elite subset of 10% or so who win big and build a career out of this game and travel the world like I do.

You need to always remember though that the whole game is in your head. They will all go on tilt eventually. But you won't. And that is why you will win.

Furthermore, fundamental preflop mistakes need to be removed from your game completely. This stuff should be automatic, no exceptions.

Lastly, you also need to be playing in the right games with people who are clearly worse than you, playing consistently every day and having the discipline to see it all through to the end.

Lastly, if you want to learn how to start making $1000+ per month from low stakes poker games, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Let me know your thoughts below on why so many people lose at poker. Do you think it is as high as 70% who lose at this game?

Losing poker players


  1. to be honest some sites where the competition is tought is a break even proposition...if yu had the waste of times plus the effect on your health and behaviour with you entourage its better to ido something else

  2. this is one hell of an article .... makes you wonder if real succes is in poker is "incredibly boring, tedious, monotonous and feels eerily similar to a job " .. then why the hell would we want to play it in the long run for the rest of our lives for example ?
    If we play it just for the potential to make a lot of money then its like any other job out there ... most people hate their jobs and they have a job who pays their bills ...
    The only other option is to play just for the fun of it but since most of the time it is boring ... how can we mantain the fun in the long run ?

    Do you have moments Nathan where you think you want to do something else in your life that you can make money out of it or you rather stick with poker for the rest of your life until you die ?


    1. I think if you truly love the game, which I do, then you find enjoyment in the grind. I don't play full-time anymore though. I prefer having balance in my life.

  3. ^^^^^

    More sound advice as ever.

    I'm just stopping by to say hi and thank you. I reached a small milestone this week by hitting $20k in clear profits - all from playing 50nl and under (yes, it's a shameless brag!).

    I spent years as a recreational fish before finally deciding to put some work into my game. The first place I came across was Nathan's website/books and it was like I'd opened Pandora's Box into a new world of poker strategy. I'm not suggesting one quick read of Crushing the Micros is all you need to start printing money (I've since gone on to use many of the other numerous poker training resources out there), but it was just what I needed to set me on the right path. I still come back to read this blog for a reminder of the good fundamentals though. So, thanks again Nathan!

    Oh, in case anyone is wondering, I'm not some kind of shill - I've never even met Nathan. I'm just a very happy (if slightly smug) customer :)

    1. Nice work Chris and I am glad my poker advice helped you get started!

  4. Hi!

    What does posting a blind out of position mean? Thanks.

    1. Hey Greg,

      Posting a blind out of position means that when you first sit down at a poker table you don't wait for the blinds to come to you. You just post a blind right away in order to get dealt in immediately.

      You should always wait because posting your blind out of position is like volunteering to pay your taxes twice.

  5. Needed to read this right now especially as I have a thread running in your forum on just this topic. It's so easy to forget or gloss over or worse still go into complete denial about the importance of those five things. I will not give in until I'm either Sectioned under the MH act or I suceed!😊

    1. Glad this article helped Mike :)

  6. Nice post. I think one stat that gets overlooked a lot is cold calling 2bets. I'm trying to get mine down to 5%, I realised I bleed chips in the long run when this is over 8%

  7. another solid post. thanks, Nathan!
    still putting in my time in the live 1/2 NL.
    some nights I "pay tuition" and some nights I win.
    feels like I'm treading water, but after 160 hours, my head is still above the water.
    a lot of that is due to you.
    thanks for the years of solid advice in your books, videos & blogs.

    1. Thanks as always for reading ekw and glad I could help :)