Even the Best Gamblers in the World Have Bad Days When Nothing Goes Right

Even the Best Gamblers in the World Have Bad Days When Nothing Goes Right

No matter how hard a player tries to avoid disaster in a casino, those days will come. They are as inevitable as the rain. It falls on us all and the only thing you can do is get out of it or buy a raincoat.

I mean, even Donald Trump with all his brilliance as a negotiator and deal-maker occasionally must declare Chapter 8. That is bankruptcy in anyone's language. Bankruptcy is not necessarily failure. Sometimes you must go that route in order to regroup and try again.

All of us have known gamblers who go on losing streaks. Some of those streaks can be financial disasters. They seem to last forever. Nothing you do to stop them seems to work. You even think about giving it all up. 'If I stop gambling,' you ponder, 'this pain will go away.' And in some cases, maybe that is exactly what you should do.

But just as you will certainly face those wasted days and wasted nights that happen to every gambler, you will experience winning streaks that make you smile and hope they will never end.

One of the most famous stories of a gambler who bounced back from disaster in a spectacular way happened to Doyle Brunson.


Doyle was a young man and a winning poker player when he became very sick. He didn't know what the problem was and sought medical help. After an exhausting battery of tests, doctors told him he had cancer.

They said it was terminal.

Surgeons scheduled him for an operation. Doyle prepared himself or the inevitable. He went into the operating room and the surgeons took out their scalpels. They invaded his body -- and came up with nothing.

No tumors. The cancer had seemingly vanished like a bad wind.

In a long-ago interview, Doyle told me, 'Well, after I recovered from the surgery, I felt so good about life that I went on a tear. I mean, I became unbeatable at the poker tables. I had 21 straight winning sessions. No matter what the other players did, they couldn't take my chips.'

'That was the best winning session at the tables I have ever experienced.'

A number of players on this website have sent emails to me telling about their own failures. They have lost heavily at slots, poker, roulette, baccarat, dice or the horses. They ask for advice on how to stop the pain and I try to comply with the best suggestions I can come up with.

I tell them to change games. Change casinos. Take a vacation. Even find a new hobby.

When I give this advice, I think of a slogan I learned as a child: Who heals the doctor when he is sick?

Physician, heal thyself.

In closing, I recently went through my own version of hell at the poker tables. Sometimes skill isn't enough to win. The Ides o March come upon you and nothing seems to work. In my case, the cash games turned on me and players I normally had little trouble defeating in the green felt jungle began beating me like a drum.

I came up with a plan to end those wasted days and nights. I dropped the cash games and turned to tournament poker. When you play in a tournament, you can reduce your cash outflow sharply since all you are risking is the buy-in or that particular tournament.


In a cash game, there is no limit to the amount you can lose. But in a tournament even though you start with $1,000 or $10,000 in chips, your buy-in is limited to whatever the structure o the tournament calls for.

This week, or example, I will be playing in only four tournaments costing me a total of $160 for our nights of play. That's a total outlay of $160 that could return between $6,000 and $10,000 dollars if I make the final table in all our tournaments.

Will it happen? Will my new strategy help me to end those wasted days and wasted nights?

We shall see. You will be able to read about it here. And while I am thinking about it, how about joining me in wishing Doyle Brunson a happy birthday. He recently turned 82 and although he occasionally experiences those pains that come to everyone who has led a good long life, he is still one of the most successful players poker has ever seen.

Let the games begin.

“They said it was terminal”

  • I agree with sparkay you must limit your spending when it comes to gambling i know people that has loss alot of money because they did not know when ot walk away from it, if you are losing give it a break dont play for some time and then retry to win back your losses. thanks Rose
  • There isn't a gambler that hasn't lost , that's why they call it gambling and as you know the majority of the time the house always wins . Its up to the player to make judgement on how much you are willing to risk. Ive eyeballed and dreamed of the big one and may have went in a bit too far and lost it all . It is deflating and losing streaks aren't fun either. For me that's when its time to take a break sometimes a long one . I remind myself to play for fun and usually more often that not its time for those winning days to reappear . Someone always has to lose in order for someone to win , with a little luck may us gamblers end up more on the winning end.
  • i hear you on that...every gamer must go through it, its the inevitable, just a matter of when. Thats with everything in life though, you gotta lose sometimes, and it may seem like it will never stop, but it does . Ive been gaming for a decade now, and ive had my fair share of beats. the feeling of knowing that just a few moments ago, you had a pretty good bankroll going on and now its gone... its a killer. this happened to many times to me. whether its at the tables, slots, one on one with dealer, sitting in front of the dealer, in tournaments or in gaming rooms, i would ride high on a good run of wins, and i get too comfortable with my winnings. i stop playing with my brain and start playing for the sake of playing, just letting loose with bigger bets and taking higher risks when i know i shouldnt. next thing i know, i got just a few chips in my bankroll . the best way i learned to deal with losing my winnings is to always limit how much i deposit first, no matter where i go, it stings alot less when you didnt lose your life savings. When i start that losing streak, i try to move around to break some of that bad luck..and if i do acheive this, i feel better. lastly, i learned to accept that losing is all part of the game, and i dont expect to come out with thousands of dollars..its a game...so i treat it that way.. sparkay
  • Mathematically it makes sense to cut your possible losses while enhancing your potential for winning a return on your cash investment. Streaks are a phenomenal thrill...even for me who isn't playing in the big leagues at all. I think some people don't have a walk away from the game for a time button though. Those who have more daring than control and can't walk away should find another hobby. Financial ruin can really hurt...not only one's own person, but the significant others in one's life. I believe that the successful professional gambler is a rather rare bird. Nice work if you can get it though.
  • I don't think that you can really enjoy winning unless you have lost. The more you have lost, the greater the appreciation for the win. Also losing gives us humility. When we do finally win, the humility will serve us well and help us be not just a winner, but a gracious winner. I don't like to see bad losers, but what is even worst and loathing is a bad winner. Losing can be a character builder and we can all use a good lesson that builds character........ Geno, the best of luck at those poker tournaments..........

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