This Door Swings Both Ways

Losing Sessions - Winning Sessions

Poker Games"This door swings both ways
Itís marked in and out
Some days you want to cry
and some you want to shout."
-- Hermanís Hermits

Games and sports normally have winners and losers. In poker we have new winners and losers literally every minute or so. Since most games are played with eight or nine players, it is a lot easier to be the non-winner in a poker hand than to be the winner. Despite semi-constantly being in non-winning situations, most players handle winning much better than losing, to say the least.

Players tend to put little focus on the non-winning aspects of the game. They focus on winning pots. They think about ways to get more money in their pockets by winning it from their opponents. Obviously this is important, but poker income is made during an exchange of money. The different players shove money into pots. They take money out of pots. Money moves back and forth around the table, over and over. A single chip may be in the possession of a dozen different people within the same hour. Poker income is not made in a nice, regular, easy to see fashion. Money is made in literally dozens of small, innocuous, cumulative ways.

Money not lost spends the same as money won. But also, the nature of poker is that you must lose in order to win. You arenít going to win 100% of your pots. Except when playing head-up, you will always lose most of the hands you are dealt in. You will usually lose most of the pots you play. The door to poker income swings both ways -- money has to go out for money to come in.

Besides maybe soccer parents, is there any group of people anywhere who more emotionally and psychotically misses the point of what they are doing than poker players? You have to lose in order to win, but losing sends poker players off the deep end. Most poker players HATE to lose.

Before you start thinking "Badger is gonna rant on about tilt again," Iím not just talking about tilt. Sure, tilting is the obvious dumb thing folks do when losing, but Iím talking about the run of the mill losing that needs to be a part of a winning poker playerís game.

A key to winning is the ability to lose well.

Tilt is just the first thing to control. You need to push yourself to play with self-control at all times, even when God seems out to screw you. But if you are in fact trying to be a winning player you wonít have bat-out-of-hell tilt frenzies that often. You will lose pots many times each hour though. When you win pots it is important to extract extra bets from your opponents. So, since you lose more pots than you win, it should be clear that it is important not give up extra bets in pots you lose.

Saving bets needs to be viewed in the context of what I have been talking about here. You WILL lose pots. The price of being a winning poker player is to lose pots regularly. If you lose sensibly, calmly (chip-wise, I donít care if you scream and holler when you lose so long as your betting is under control) and with the strategic understanding that bets not lost are just as valuable as bets won, you will increase your hourly win rate just as surely as if an opponent put extra chips into each pot you win.

"This door swings both ways/which one will it be/will you live in happiness or dwell in misery." The happiness of winning at poker MUST include the "misery" of losing. If one hand you send AK against Q7 and the flop is QJT, the turn a 7, and river a 3, and another hand you send AK against Q7 and the flop is QJT, the turn a 7 and the river a 7, you should understand that to experience the happiness of the first you sometimes must experience the misery of the second. The rake is not the only price we pay to play poker. We have to pay the freight of losing to win.

See also Risk Losing, Playing to Win and YA Tittle and Losing Poker