Does winning a lot turn you into a bad player?

We’ve all had hot streaks where for a time we’re getting great cards. We make strong hands. We edge out our opponents in showdowns. We hit improbable draws.

After a short time, when you have a hot streak, you win so many chips that you can open your range way up, and start playing with middle connectors, rag pairs, etc. because your stack dominates the table and the blinds have a way to go to catch up to you. If you’re in a 9-seat SNG with half the chips at the table in front of you and the blinds are still <100, you can play almost any two cards, and bully pots when you miss.

If you get too used to it, though, this loose play becomes a liability. All hot streaks come to an end. The odds catch up with you, and you start losing those close showdowns. You bluff one time too many and get called, losing a big pot. You run into a cold streak, getting dealt mostly weak cards and every time you have something that could be playable, you miss the flop. Or you hit the flop, but someone else hits it better.

Your recent hot streak lead to bad habits and lead you directly into a cold streak where the bad cards you’re getting are magnified by the bad decisions you’re making due to the loose, aggressive style you won with when you were getting lots of big cards.

That’s what I mean by “winning a lot makes you a bad player”.

So, now that you know what I mean, how do you avoid falling into this trap?

I find that when I do get a hot streak of unbelievably playable cards and great outcomes, I do change my style to take advantage of this. The cards pretty much demand it, when you get good cards, you should play them.

The problem, I think, is when your range opens up and you start playing too many mediocre starting cards. For a short time, when you’re hot and the table knows it and they’re giving you respect, you can play those mediocre hands and win with them. But that never lasts. It can’t last. So you need to quickly adjust back when you sense that the hot streak is over.

Can you sense when a streak is over? Not really. If the cards really are being dealt fairly, this is just a statistical aberration, not something caused by anything. So you can’t predict, and you can’t notice when a string of random numbers stops being mostly high numbers.

Well, what can you do then? I have my ideas, and I’d tell you, but, well, they’re not working so good. I’m still working on it. I want to hear what you think.

Personally I disagree with what you said. Winning a lot doesn’t turn you into a bad player just as losing a lot doesn’t turn you into a good one.

If you’re a good player, you will keep adjusting the way you play according to many many factors. If your style gets affected by a winning streak and you keep playing the same way even when the streak is over, you’re not a good player. Same goes for the losing streak. If you keep getting bad cards and folding/losing, wouldn’t you recognize when your cards improve and you start getting winning hands? I think it works both ways.

I just don’t think that a good poker player sticks with one play style because of one factor on another. Too many factors affect the way people play, and changing the game to adapt is the key.


Good players don’t rely on streaks to win.

Bad players who have a lucky day are still bad players.

If you are winning by playing a certain way, why would anyone expect to keep winning if they start playing “any two cards?” They would basically be saying,. “This works, let’s change it.”

So no, winning a lot doesn’t have to make anyone a bad player.



It depends on how you interpret what I’ve said. What I’m suggesting is that we can learn from mistakes, and improve. So bad play can make you a better player, if you figure out what was bad, and what to do about it. Conversely, playing “bad” but having great outcomes, you don’t learn anything. You’re getting the results you wanted (winning) and it seems like you can do no wrong.

Then the cards dry up, and suddenly you’re mortal. But the style of play that you could get away with when you hardly saw a card lower than a 9, you can’t anymore, only you don’t know it. And that’s when you take a big string of losses, until it dawns on you that maybe you’re not the good player you thought you were.

Every player who’s trying to win thinks they’re a good player; if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be playing.

Whether they really are a good player or not, of course, is a completely different thing from how they perceive themselves.

I think most people, psychologically, base their opinion of whether they’re good or not on the outcome. If you win a lot, then it must be because you’re good. I’m sure that’s not how it really works, but that’s how most people probably perceive and evaluate themselves.

I’m not sure if I’m a good player or a bad player; I think I do OK, and I feel like I’m learning the more I play, and I win “enough” at SNG and MTT play that I must be doing something right. But I’ve only played a couple thousand hands on this site, and I don’t know that it’s enough to say conclusively that I’m really a good player. I think maybe I am, but only time will tell. I feel like I have potential. I’m definitely not as good as I can be, but that’s good because that means I can get better.

@SunPowerGuru: I didn’t say good players rely on streaks to win. I suggested rather that when any player hits an aberrant streak of great cards, they may be prone to loosening up too much, leading to bad outcomes, and thus “winning too much can turn you into a bad player.”

To illustrate what I mean by this: About two weeks ago, I had a phenomenal SNG where I eliminated 7 of 8 opponents at the table. It seemed like I was getting dealt my cards from a Royal HE deck, and everyone else was playing with the standard 52-card deck. I won nearly every showdown, and was able to play a greater percentage of hands than normal.

Pretty quickly, my stack was dominant, and everyone else at the table watched me win pot after pot after pot, and at a certain point, the blinds were so small relative to my stack that it was cheap for me to see any flop. At that point, I could play mediocre cards and maybe the flop would hit them and I’d have the best hand and win, or if not I could just as well bully everyone off the pot by betting big enough that they couldn’t call unless they had a monster hand. A pot-sized bet was “throwaway money” to me, but a significant percentage of anyone else’s stack. And a few times when someone did try to stand up, they got beat.

I ended up finishing 2nd, because when it went to heads-up I ended up getting beat in all-in showdowns 3 times in a row, on hands where I had really good cards but just not good enough. Three bad beats in a row, and suddenly my opponent had turned the tables on me, and knocked me out.

After that SNG ended, my play was just off. I couldn’t win, and went through 2 days of futility, playing more and more tables trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, and burned through 700k of chips. Early on, I went through a cold streak where I was getting nothing but rags, and had to fold a lot, and then the few times I got playable starting cards, I would get beat in a close showdown. I found I couldn’t bluff, every time I tried, I’d get called/raised, or beat.

I ended up taking a week off, and came back, and now my play is more or less back to normal, and I’m back to winning about as frequently as I had been before that hot streak.

I think when you look at the behavior of gambling addicts, this is a familiar and common pattern – an initial win streak precipitates a massive losing streak, which gets worse as the gambler tries to win back his losses, taking bigger and bigger risks, playing further and further from ideal strategy, and ends up in deep trouble.

I don’t think good players do this.

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Plainly. But we’re not using the same definition of “good player”. You’re referring to actually good players, while I’m talking about a player who has been getting good cards and playing them well to good results, and consequently thinks they’re a good player.

They might have been playing good poker to start off with to get into the winning streak, but because they’re not actually a good player, they allow the streak to change the way they’re playing, and then they’re suddenly playing bad. Like Wile E. Coyote they run out too far over the edge of the cliff before they realize they’re walking on air, and then they look down, and then they fall.

If you can remember way back to when you were a new player, around the time you thought you were good, but you weren’t really good yet, I bet you’ve gone through this, at least once, at some point. I’d be really surprised if anybody hasn’t been there.


I do understand what you mean. But what I’m saying is that those who allow a streak of any kind to change the way they play, and don’t readjust once the streak is over, still have a long way to go and a lot to learn.

I don’t think that’s accurate. I haven’t. And I don’t think everyone else has either. We’ve all learned to play in different ways, from different teachers, through different experiences, and have not all necessarily gone through the same stages. But I can see your point and yes, many others could have had the same experience, no doubt. What’s important is to learn from it and move on to a higher level on that endless learning curve :slight_smile:

P.S. I too like pugs :wink: They’re just adorable!

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FWIW I totally see what you are saying. Just as bad luck can cause tilt and worse play, so good luck can also change our game for the worse.

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I get what you are saying and I think the good players take massive advantage of their hot streaks but they don’t fall prey to the “I won with junk” trap. Good players understand table image and odds and outs etc. Having said that, there are a shed load of players here doing exactly what you say and, as far as I’m concerned, long may they stay. I want their bad habits reinforced by an occasional luck-out.
I recently played a hand where I had Ah5h. I raised pre-flop and got a call from the table donk. Flop is 55K rainbow. I have trips against an ATM so I fire out and get called Turn is a mid card blank and I shove (figured donk with kings would have re-raised rather than call). I get called again and donk flips over 22. He had called off his stack, on a paired board, against the tightest player at the table who had raised big on every street and all he held was 22. He had exactly 2 outs.
Yup… you guessed it… 2 on the river to fill his miracle boat and cripple me.
Now that …(add your own favorite swear word)… sucked. What I said though was “well played. You have me figured out and are too good for me. That was a really great play and I wish I was good enough to make it. Dang it … You are good”.
Next time we meet I want donk playing exactly the same… He has had his 4% river luck-out, now it’s my 96% but I will continue to say he is way too good for me and I"m just lucky

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Yes! Wow, I wish you could have copy-edited my original post, that would have been WAY more succinct! lol.

So you’re actually asking, “Does being delusional about your skill level make you a bad player?” Being delusional doesn’t make someone a bad player, but it can stop them from being a good player. Good players honestly evaluate their weaknesses and make changes to eliminate these weaknesses. Drastically altering your play based on lucky streaks is a flaw that delusional players might not see. I’m talking “in general,” this is not directed at you or anyone in particular.

I will start to think I’m a good player when I win my 3rd WSOP bracelet. I have exactly 0 of them now, so this isn’t likely to happen any time soon. I would need 3 because the first 2 might be a fluke.

I would say I 'm a decent player in the medium MTT realm because this is mostly what I play, and my bankroll goes up consistently, month after month. I would be an idiot in high stakes rings, and I know this.

Learn how to honestly and accurately evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and you will be on the way to being a better player.

So you’re actually asking, “Does being delusional about your skill level make you a bad player?”

Er, sort of… More like “Does this sound like you?” or “Have you ever been there during the course of your evolution as a poker player?”

My post isn’t directed at actually-good players who have millions of hands under their belt, people who can play for real money and serious stakes. It’s for people who’ve played a little and won a little and are on the starting path, but who think they’re good already.

If you read the title of the post and recognized yourself, then the lesson is, “You’re still not good, but here’s an insight as to why your hot streaks are followed by long cold streaks.” If you’re that person, maybe reading this will give you the insight to analyze your play and see how you’re play changed as a result of the experiences you had, and then you can think objectively about it and figure out a better way to play. This is exactly how you can analyze your weaknesses and make changes.

If you’re already actually-good, then you read this and think, “Pffft. Amateurs, thinking they’re good. Lol. Anyone on a hot streak right now? Please, have a seat to my right. I’ll buy you a drink.”


I was just trying to help!

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