5 Proven Ways to Stop Losing at Poker (#3 Might Surprise You)

Stop Losing at Poker
We've all been there.

You sit down at the poker table to play another session and despite your best efforts you leave with less chips than you started with.

They hit their flush again, straight on the river and so on. You just can't seem to win a hand of poker. It all seems hopeless, you are totally sick of losing at poker!

Sound familiar?

If so then this article is for you. Because I am going to give you 5 proven ways to finally stop losing at poker.

Now I can't promise that you will be playing poker like Phil Ivey when you are finished reading this article, but it will definitely help you stop losing at poker!

1. Fold Versus Turn and River Raises

The first way to stop losing at poker is going to require a bit of faith on your part. And it might even sound a bit crazy at first!

But from now on, if you only have one pair on the turn or river and they raise you, then you need to fold your hand.

In low stakes poker games which are mostly full of passive players these days, a raise on the turn or the river very often represents a huge hand.

And what do I mean by "huge hand?" I mean something that beats one pair!

Now I know it's painful if you have AA or KK. But trust me on this one, this is really going to help you stop losing at poker.

I love pocket aces and pocket kings as much as you do. But you have to remember that it is just one pair. Winning poker players know when to fold an overpair.

Believe me, when they start raising you on the turn or river it is because they have you beat. Just close your eyes and fold your hand.

You will be thanking me later.

2. Remove Slowplay From Your Poker Vocabulary

This next tip to stop losing at poker might be difficult at first as well. Often we see our poker heroes on TV like Daniel Negreanu making brilliant slowplays and roping them into making a big mistake.

But you have to understand that they are doing this in high stakes poker games versus world class opponents. In fact he even mentions this specifically in his new poker course!

Slowplaying often does work well in these games. But it doesn't work good in your $10 game online or your $1/$2 game at the local casino though!

How to stop losing at poker

And this is because many of your opponents in these games are calling stations (e.g. they love to call). Therefore, you are losing a lot of money by not betting your hand.

This is huge reason why people lose at poker. You have to build the pot for them and never slowplay your big hands in low stakes games.

The next time you get pocket aces for instance. Just raise and re-raise it. Play it in the most stupidly obvious and straightforward way possible.

This is the way to win the most with big hands like AA. You never want to get tricky against bad poker players. Believe me, it will just go right over their heads.

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3. Fish at the Table or You Leave

The next way to stop losing at poker might be the most effective winning poker strategy that I can possibly give you for today's games.

And that is, you need to always have a big fish at your poker table. If you can't immediately identify the mark, then you leave. It's that simple.

The reason why this is so important is because the fish are how we make the money in this game. Just look at the loose maniac in this video and what kind of nonsense they will show up with!

You are going to absolutely print money against these goofballs in the long run!

If you play online poker then you should use a HUD. Your HUD will tell you who the fish are. They will have a VPIP (percentage of hands played) that is 40% or higher.

In live poker games you just have to look for the guy who is playing too many hands, limping, calling down with bad hands and so on.

If you don't have one of these guys at you table, you leave. I can guarantee that this strategy will immediately help you stop losing at poker.

4. Have a Rock Solid Preflop Strategy

Everything starts before the flop in poker. You should have a rock solid preflop strategy to know exactly which hands to play and raise with from every single position.

This is why I ended up including more preflop charts than any other poker book in history when I wrote Modern Small Stakes.

You simply have to have this part of the game down!

The biggest thing to remember is this:
  • You want to play a lot of hands around the button
  • You want to play less hands in the blinds and up front

The reason why is simple. Position is king in poker. It is a proven statistical fact that you will win way more when you have position.

Bottom line: Get a solid preflop strategy, memorize some charts if you need to. This stuff should be automatic for you at the poker tables. No more guessing about what hands to play!

5. Use Timeouts to Stop Losing at Poker

The last and probably most effective way to stop losing at poker is to use timeouts to control your tilt when it starts building.

Tilt or frustration is easily the #1 reason why people fail to win in poker. It isn't that they don't have the skills to win, it's that they throw away all their profits when the cards go south on them.

Stop Losing at Poker Tilt Control

So I would recommend making use of timeouts when you take a few bad beats in a row.

This means that you immediately get up from the table and go walk around for a few minutes. Try doing some deep breathing exercises.

This allows you to calm yourself down and prevents you from making emotionally charged poor decisions at the poker table.

If you feel that your level of tilt and frustration is extremely high, then you should just quit playing poker for the day completely. Remember that the games will always be there again tomorrow when you have a clear mind.

One of the best pieces of advice I can ever give you to stop losing at poker is to stop playing when you are feeling tilted. This literally ruins entire poker careers, bankrolls and dreams in this game.

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Don't Lose All Your Money Playing Poker

It is also very important to be aware of your bankroll when you are playing poker. This is the total amount of chips or money that you have set aside to play poker.

You should always have at least 30 full buyins set aside for any game you are playing in. And quite frankly more is always better!

A "full buyin" by the way refers to 100 big blinds which is the maximum buyin in most online cash games. For instance 30 buyins at NL10 would be $300.

There is absolutely no reason why you should ever lose all of your money when playing poker. Anyone who tells you different just doesn't practice proper bankroll management.

In nearly 15 years playing this game, and 10 years as a pro, I have never gone broke once. And neither should you.

You need to approach this game like a professional does and always be adequately bankrolled for the inevitable ups and downs.

How to Deal With Poker Losses

Now with that said, poker losses are going to happen no matter how good you are. Even the very best players in the world have losing days. Lot's of them in fact.

There is simply no way to get around this in poker. There is a short term luck aspect to the game which is simply unavoidable.

How to stop losing at poker

However, some people deal with poker losses better than others. Professionals view the game of poker as a long term endeavour where they will profit over months and years.

Amateurs on the other hand, get wound up about individual days, and often even about individual hands too.

The best thing that you can do to deal with poker losses is to start seeing this game from a much wider perspective. This game is all long term.

What to Do When Running Bad in Poker

But no matter how hard you try, believe me I know, running bad in poker sucks!

I have lost at poker for weeks and even months in a row many times in my poker career. This was enough for me to question not only my sanity, but whether or not I was even a winning poker player at all anymore.

But the reality is that these are something we call downswings.

When the coolers and the bad beats start piling up over days, weeks and even months it will really test how strong of a poker player you are.

Because everybody goes through downswings at some point or another and they are without a doubt the hardest part about playing this game.

Many people crack while running bad and end up throwing away tons of unnecessary chips with poor decisions that were made based on emotion rather than logic.

The best thing you can do when you are running bad in poker is to take regular timeouts and do lots of session reviews as well. This will help you make sure that it is indeed bad luck that is causing you to lose and not bad play.

When you are in a downswing this is also a good time to play a little bit less poker and focus more on studying and improving your game.

Always remember that downswings are a temporary setback for a winning poker player. In fact many world class poker players see them as an opportunity to separate themselves from everybody else.

Because they know that they will react better to them than all the amateurs will.

Final Thoughts

In order to stop losing at poker there are several important steps that you need to take.

First off, you need to start folding versus turn and river raises when you only have one pair. And yes, even if you have AA or KK. Remember, this is still just one pair!

This is something that even Phil Ivey discusses in his new advanced poker training program.

And he has made $45,000,000 playing poker. Enough said!

You also need to completely remove slowplay from your strategy at the lower stakes. As crazy at it might sound at first, you need to go ahead and just bet your straight or two pair the whole way.

Yes, sometimes they will fold when they don't have anything and you can't control that. But many times they will call you down and this is going to help you win more and stop losing at poker.

Lastly, you need to make sure that there is always a fish at the table when you are playing poker (40% VPIP or higher), memorize a solid preflop strategy and use timeouts and session review to prevent tilt from ruining your poker career.

If you want to know the strategies I use to make $1000+ per month from low stakes poker as a 10 year pro, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Let me know how you stopped losing at poker in the comments below.

How to stop losing at poker


  1. Hi Nathan,

    I read your first book when I first started playing poker and had a really bad view of the kinds of tips and strategies you teach, since they're quite ignorant for someone that has a decent understanding of poker. But the more hands I play and the more opponents I meet, I have to say that I wish I would've followed your strategy from the beginning. I started learning more about advanced poker play with bluffs, blockers and light 3-bets and other more "advanced" strategies. But none of those things are actually needed. Which surprised me and I had a hard time confessing that playing "good poker" at the micros is just a losing play in general.

    I really love that there's one good author and teacher the micros, that teaches the right way to play the stake.

    Now for my question, I've been playing 2nl and 5nl and I have a 13bb/100 winrate over 60k hands. Should I consider moving up to 10nl ASAP or should I build my bankroll up to 100 BI before considering moving up? Since I played poker a few years back and had really poor bankroll management which led to me losing a hefty sum of money. Oh, and is 10nl the same as 2 and 5nl, or is it a big "tougher"?

    Thanks for all the articles you put out.

    1. Hey Kuralik,

      I am glad my poker advice and my book helped you. I agree that very few of these advanced plays are needed to beat the micros.

      100 buyins is quite a bit. Unless you are a professional I don't think you need that many before moving up. But ultimately it is up to you. Great winrate by the way!

      Oh and NL10 is a little bit tougher than NL5. Considering your winrate I don't think you will have any problem beating it though.

    2. "Oh, and is 10nl the same as 2 and 5nl, or is it a big "tougher"?"

      It's venue dependent. Being from the US, I don't have many choices as to where to play. From what I've seen, 10NL is the same as 5NL. I've played: 25NL, 50NL, and 100NL. If anything, the play at 25NL, 50NL, and 100NL is even more horrid than at 10NL. That's the situation at Ignition, anyway. I know Nathan doesn't like Ignition since a HUD is useless at their anonymous tables, but that suits me just fine since, as a Linux user, there is no HUD soft that'll run on it anyway. If you're playing elsewhere, well YMMV.

  2. this is esp true for satellites, i can easily lose $50 playing $0.5 to $1.5 rebuy tourney/satellite in just few hours 6 tablings. But...i had also big winning like $0.5 to $189 in sunday mega deep 2nd place satellite, or even ran from $0.5 to $55 monsoon entry.

    Variance is just crazy!

    1. Ya it doesn't seem to matter what format you play in poker, there is always gonna be variance.

    2. $200 to $150 downswing, it could be hard to deal emotionally if i spent at least 12 hours + consecutively everyday multi tabling. Every time i go to lobby check my balance decreasing it will tilt me little by little smashing my mouse..

    3. when is your winning day before the loosing swing playing withoubankroll
      the next day or even late night there comes RNG and you loose all with betterhands no matter what they draw going home its sick and bullshit
      all hard work toilet

  3. Great Read Blackrain it took Me a while to learn the first part You talk about ,Fold Versus Turn and River Raises, I used to look everyone up I didn't believe in the fold button and still make light call downs here and there but I'm more willing to lay it down now overall . . . Hope all is well here is some Relaxation music 4 the grind take care 🦊 😎

    1. Thanks DFox! It took me a long time to learn this at the micros as well.

  4. Hi Nathan
    Great pearls of wisdom as usual. My main problem apart from tilt is I'm usually quite good at playing and very often doubling my stacks on 3 tables or so. Then quite often it just seems to deplete again as I continue to play gong back to more or less break even for the session or even losing a bit. Could this maybe be caused by boredom or lack of concentration creeping in that I'm not really aware of.
    Also a couple of yrs back I bought and studied your excellent video series for 2NL and was wondering if anything similar is in the pipeline maybe 5NL. Also recently purchased the Microstakes Playbook with I find excellent too although I feel I grasp more from watching videos.
    Once again though keep up the good work
    Cheers Phil

    1. Hey Phil,

      What you describe is pretty common. It could be due to a lack of concentration/focus but it could also just be variance playing it's course. We can't ever control the results from session to session. We can only control how well we play, so I would just focus on that.

      I am glad that my books and videos have helped you. I plan to release a big video course covering all micro stakes games later this year.