Can You Run Bad in Poker For Months? (It Might Surprise You)

Can You Run Bad in Poker For Months?
People ask me all the time if it is possible to run bad for months on end in poker. The term "running bad" by the way refers to a sustained period of bad luck.

For example, your pocket aces get cracked over and over again, you lose flush over flush, they hit their miracle cards against you on the river seemingly every time, and so on.

This is actually a completely natural thing in poker, which we call a "downswing" and it happens to everybody, sooner or later.

But many people are actually a bit surprised at just how long a downswing can last. So in this article I am going to discuss if you can run bad in poker for months, and what you can do about it.

How Long Can You Run Bad in Poker?

So how long can you actually run bad in poker? Well, technically it can last as long as it wants to. Poker is just cold hard math at the end of the day.

And the one thing that I have learned from playing millions and millions of hands is that the more you play, the more completely insane statistical anomalies that you will encounter.

If you think about it though, this only makes sense. If you sit there flipping a coin a million times eventually it's going to land tails 12 times in a row right?

So in my poker career I have had multiple instances where I ran far below EV (expected value) for over 100,000 hands. And I was absolutely convinced that I would never win another hand of poker again.

This is why if you read my poker blog here regularly you will know that I often quote this number (100k) as the bare minimum thresh-hold to draw any kind of reasonably accurate conclusions about your poker results.

And people have told me many times that this number is way too high. I am crazy. But this is because they don't want to believe that it can actually take that long to get your true results in poker.

After all, playing 100,000 hands of poker takes an entire year for some people even if they multi-table online. If you play live, playing this amount could take years.

But when you have played 10+ million hands of poker like I have, then and only then, will you begin to understand the real nature of variance in this game.

If you haven't even reached 1 million hands played yet in your poker career, believe me, you haven't seen anything yet.

You Can Run Bad in Poker For Months or Even Years

So to answer the question, yes, you can run bad in poker for months or even years on end, especially in the case of tournament players. Any long term poker pro will also tell you the same thing.

And this is unfortunately why so many people struggle to win at this game. Because they never get past the short term in poker.

I have people coming to me all the time claiming that online poker is rigged because they lost over a sample of 5,000 hands.

But anybody who takes poker seriously knows that 5,000 hands is not even close to a statistically representative sample.

And so herein lies the problem with the game.

Most amateurs do not play even close to enough hands to get to the long term in any kind of reasonable time period.

Heck, even many pros don't!

And this is especially troublesome for somebody who is brand new to poker and happens to begin their career on a bad downswing (which can and does absolutely happen all the time).

These people very often just end up quitting the game completely and never even give themselves an opportunity to succeed.

My Free Poker Cheat Sheet Teaches You How to Make $1000+ Per Month at the Micro Stakes

Are you having trouble beating low stakes poker games online or live? Are you looking to make a consistent part time income playing these games?

Can You Run Bad in Poker For Months?
That is why I wrote this free little 50 page poker cheat sheet to give you the exact strategies to start consistently making $500 per month (or more) in low stakes poker games right now.

These are the exact poker strategies by the way that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro. And I lay them all out for you step by step in this free guide.

Enter your details below and I will send my free poker cheat sheet to your inbox right now.

What Can You Do to Stop Running Bad?

So what can you actually do when you are in a downswing? Is there any way to stop running so bad? 

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but sadly, no, there isn't really a whole lot you can do.

Brutal downswings hit every poker player at a certain point and all long term pros have experienced several of them and remember them vividly (if they even survived).

However, there are a few small things you can do to help mitigate the damage of running bad for months on end.

Firstly, and this might sound extremely obvious, but just get better at poker. If you need to study some advanced poker strategy, go do that.

If you need to hire a coach, join a poker training site, study advanced poker strategy books and so on, go do all that too. The bottom line, is improve your edge versus the other players in your games.

Because this will do more than anything to lessen the impact of running bad for an extended period of time.

If you can learn to steal a few more pots, or make a few more smart bluffs for example, this will lessen the blow of another big bad beat loss.

This is why I focus so heavily on aiming for the optimal or absolute "ceiling" winrate in whatever games that you play in all the time in my poker books and here on my blog.

The reason why I was able to survive so many absolutely soul crushing downswings during my poker career is because I often was among the very biggest winners in the game.

This helps soften the blows considerably.

A weak reg with a small winrate (2bb/100) for example might lose 5 buyins in a bad session whereas I only lose 2 or 3 buyins because my winrate is much higher than this (5bb/100 or 10bb/100).

Losing 2 buyins instead of 5 buyins is much easier to handle from a psychological perspective when you are losing every single day for weeks or months on end, like I have many times.

And that is why improving you winrate is literally the single greatest thing you could ever do to help yourself deal with the deleterious affects of variance in poker.

Create a Clearly Defined Quitting Strategy When Running Bad

The next way to mitigate the damage for an extended period of running bad is to create a clearly defined quitting strategy.

And what this really does is lessen the impact of tilt.

Your biggest enemy when you are in the midst of a brutal downswing that lasts for weeks or months on end is tilt.

Tilt is the frustration that builds inside of you due to another bad beat, another cooler and so on, which causes you to make poor emotionally charged decisions in future hands, instead of calculated rational decisions.

Tilt ruins bankrolls, dreams and even careers in this game. I have seen it happen again and again.

And this is why it is so crucially important that you are able to simply get up and walk away from the poker tables before any real damage can be done.

So for me personally I use a Stop Loss of 5 buy-ins during normal times when I am running, well normal. 

This means that if I lose 5 full buy-ins for a cash game (500 big blinds), then I am absolutely done for the day.

No ifs, ands or buts. No chasing losses.

Turn the computer off or walk out of the casino.

Finished for the day. Period.

However, during periods when I am in a lengthy downswing, I shorten my Stop Loss to just 3 buy-ins. This is something that all poker pros do as I discuss in The Micro Stakes Playbook.

And the reason why I shorten my Stop Loss during an extended period of running bad is because I know that my fuse is much shorter overall.

I don't care how "stoic" you are, how much you meditate on mountaintops and do yoga marathons, weeks and months in a row of getting slaughtered in every hand you play at the poker table is going to get to you at a certain point.

You are going to start to feel resentful. You are going to start predicting future losses and get that hopeless feeling that you will never win again.

So, because I am well aware that I am more emotional during an extended downswing, I know that I have to be more disciplined than normal with my quitting strategy.

So if I lose 3 buy-ins, or 300 big blinds, I am outta there for the day.

And once again, there are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.

If You Are Running Bad Right Now, Hang in There

I guess I will finish up here by just saying that if you found this article by googling "running bad in poker", or some variety of that, I want you to know that I feel your pain.

Because believe me, I have been there countless times myself.

The one thing that you need to know right now is that it will end at some point. No more how brutal they are. No matter how dark it feels, downswing do, mercifully, always end.

You need to understand that all the bad beats, the coolers, the missed draws and so on are not normal. And your results right now are not representative of your true prowess as a poker player.

By the way, I discuss this in much more detail in my new Elite Poker University training. 

Learn EXACTLY how to start crushing small and mid stakes poker games, play semi-pro or even full time pro. Use my proven elite poker strategies to start winning fast.

Get $100 OFF Use Code: Elite100

What you are going through right now is a test of how strong willed you are to get through this. Because truthfully, most people crack under the pressure when it happens to them.

They go on mass tilt and literally just give their bankroll away. And this is the #1 reason why most people lose at poker in the long run.

Poker is an absolutely brutal game sometimes but you need to remember that it is also all in your head. I actually discussed this in a recent video on YouTube. 

Everybody will eventually run about the same over the long run. That is, they will get dealt roughly the same amount of good hands, mediocre hands and bad hands.

The only difference between the big winners, break even players and the vast majority who lose, is how they handle all the bad hands, and getting unlucky for weeks or months on end.

This is when you get to prove yourself as a poker player.

This is when you truly get to separate yourself from everybody else, because you know when it happens to them (and oh it will!), they will not handle it nearly as well as you do.

Final Thoughts

So can you run bad in poker for months on end?

Sure, you absolutely can. In fact, this is a completely normal occurrence that will happen to every poker player at some point.

In fact, it even happens to world class pros like Daniel Negreanu as he discusses in his Masterclass training program.

And while terrible downswings can make you feel utterly hopeless and lose all confidence in your poker game, you have to know that they are not representative of reality.

They are a distortion of your real poker results and your real abilities. Extreme mathematical anomalies, which is essentially what an extended period of running bad is, cannot last forever.

And that really is the key point. Your downswing will end.

Your main goal right now is to just keep getting in there each day, playing as best as you can, and try to mitigate the damage.

You do this by setting a clear Stop Loss, which means when you lose a certain amount of buy-ins or big blinds, you are done for the day. No ifs, ands or buts.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy that I have used as a 10+ year pro to create some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the micros, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Can You Run Bad in Poker For Months?