Playing over your head. Sometimes when a player has a bad session or two, they will move up levels to “get their money back.” This is especially easy to do online. The problem is that here you are typically using a hit-and-run strategy, and also won’t be playing your best because you’ll either be: 1) Angry about the results at lower limits or 2) Fearful of the amounts you are playing for, thus missing value bets or playing too tight. Moving up is no way to fix a bad streak, and will only make it run longer. Be disciplined and move up only when your bankroll gives you enough to play at the higher levels.
Take your Prozac. When running bad, it’s easy to get down on yourself. You may think you are a much worse player than you really are; or think you can never beat the game. This mental game is bound to affect you at the table, typically making you play more like a rock. You have to put the bad sessions behind you. Live out the motto of the Notre Dame football team: “Play like a champion today.” Even the best players have rough sessions. If you can’t get out of your funk, leave the game and come back later to play when you are mentally better prepared.
Don’t get married to the pocket pair. Tens, Jacks and Queens. They look so lovely. But what to do when the flop brings the overcards? Many players will play these (or Big Slick) automatically on the flop to see the Turn; some even feel the need to see the River with them. This is another big contributing factor to causing a player to run bad. A good pocket pair is sometimes no good anymore on the flop. Do not get married to it when the flop misses you. It may still be good and playable if heads-up, or you have other outs such as a four-flush or open-ended straight draw on the flop, but the larger the field, the more reason to release the hand. It’s 23-to-1 to hit a set on the Turn. No pot will give you those odds.
Gamblers are among the most superstitious of people. Luck is certainly an element in poker, and it’s inevitable the best of players will have short-term streaks of wins and losses. This is especially true at low stakes holdem. Yet very often “running bad” isn’t mere bad luck. It’s a number of little things that have crept into your game. Fix those bad habits and get your game back on track by playing the kind of poker you know how to play.