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Winning poker players have habits they’ve developed over the course of their career and these habits help them win on a consistent basis.

Adversely, losing players also have certain habits that have been developed but their habits lead to them heading home with nothing but a story.

Here’s five bad habits that will lead to long-term losses in poker. In almost every instance, simple fixes can right one’s poker ship.

Continually Playing in “Bad Games”

Bad games in poker can take on multiple connotations. When an amateur thinks of a bad game, they usually mean one where there’s not a lot of action or maybe there’s not a lot of money on the table.

Amateurs often fail to consider that a game where they may be drastically outclassed is also a bad game. One example is a game where there’s multiple pros or one where the table is full of regulars to the poker room.

On the later, the game is often centered on the amateur who simply doesn’t realized that they are over their head. By the time they clue in to this fact, they’re already down multiple buy-ins.

Playing While Tired, Drunk or Distracted

Anything that takes away focus from playing your best poker is a form of distraction. Two of the most common distractions is when a player is either tired or hungry. Both are simple matters to fix, but the player is often too stubborn to leave.

Players also love to drink alcohol at the table and getting buzzed or drunk is another distraction that’s going to cut into your profits. How often have you seen players stick with a game in anticipation of a player getting drunk and blowing off their chips?

Life distractions are also another bankroll killer. Anything from problems at work to relationship issues keeps the player distracted. All they are really focused on is their personal issues and they are prone to make mistakes.

Players making this mistake will notice it – after they’ve donated to the game and leave busted.

Chasing Losses

A player that regularly sticks with a game when they are losing is prone to be a long-term loser in the game. We aren’t talking about the player who takes a couple of bad beats and continues because the game is good.

Instead, we are referring to the person that is digging into their wallet for the fourth or fifth buy-in or are walking to the ATM to get more cash because “they’re due to hit.”

This person has deep issues that are probably centered on some of the other bankroll killers already mentioned.

Regularly Hitting and Running

On the other end of the spectrum is the player that regularly quits a game after hitting a big hand or doubling-up. This is referred to as a “hit and run.” Online poker players are used to this occurrence but you will see it in live poker as well.

A player buys into a $2-$4 Limit Hold’em game and gets involved in a family pot with two players. The action is heavy and they end up winning the pot for about $40 or so. Sometimes immediately or within a couple of hands, the player is off with their “win.”

The above example is a person real-life example I encountered in Atlantic City. This one particular regular at the Taj would enter a Limit Hold’em game and if he hit a pot or two pretty quick, he’s leave. Often, he’s hop into a $1-$2 NL and try to get lucky.

More often than not, he’d go to the other game and bust and work his way back over to the Limit Hold’em tables. I can’t ever remember seeing him with more than $100 to his name.

Also, he was the type of player that if he wasn’t hitting, he’d chase his losses.

Failing to Practice Bankroll Management

For many amateurs, bankroll management means that they have a set amount of money to play poker and they play with it until they lose it all. They fail to put forth any further thought or planning and often have to replenish their bankroll with other funds or from other sources.

A player with $500 who isn’t using bankroll management might try to buy-in with that whole amount into a single game. Maybe they try and “stretch it out” and split it between a tournament and some cash games.

What they aren’t doing is making a plan of which games they can play, how many buy-ins they can afford, etc. Furthermore, they aren’t tracking how much money they are actually winning or losing in the game.

That $500 we mentioned might be the fourth or fifth time that this person has tried to “play poker” and each time he leave frustrated because he couldn’t win and is confused how players can continue in a game for hours or days while his bankroll lasted on a short while.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.