Hot and Stuck - Stuck Like a Pig

by Jesse Knight


Hot and Stuck
Stuck - To be losing during a poker session.

When you sit down to play poker, the length of time that you play for is frequently referred to as a “poker session.” When you are losing money during a particular poker session, it is referred to as being “stuck.” Most poker sessions will have their ups and downs, so it is fairly common for a player to be stuck for at least a part of their session. Naturally, most players will not want to end their session as a loser, so there is an incentive for players to stay and play a little longer when they are stuck, in an effort to recoup their losses and manufacture a winning session. On one level, this makes sense. If you could turn a losing session into a winning session, with just a little time investment, it would certainly make sense to do so. When a player goes from having a losing session to having a winning session, it is referred to as “getting unstuck.”

One problem with this strategy, is that there is no guarantee things will get any better for you just because you decide to extend the length of your session. If you run bad or play bad, you can easily continue to get more and more stuck. This can lead to a feeling that one has to extend the poker session, because leaving at this point would just be too unpalatable. If a player refuses to leave the game because they are losing too much, their only option at that point would be to stay and extend the session out even further. In this case, a player is literally, and not just metaphorically, stuck in the game. And still, there is no guarantee that things will not continue to get worse. You can easily continue to get deeper in the hole by further extending your poker session. In fact, many players will have the quality of their play erode as they get more and more stuck and become more and more desperate to get their money back. This can easily become a downward spiral of mounting losses and poor play. When a player chooses to gamble in an attempt to recoup past losses, it is referred to as “chasing your money,” or “putting good money after bad.”

So, while the desire to extend out a session in an attempt to make a recovery is a reasonable desire to have, there has to be limits. If you catch yourself playing poorly or acting in desperation because you have lost more than you are comfortable with, it is time to end your session, accept the loss, and walk away from the game. If being stuck has affected your game, and caused you to make mistakes or adjust your game in a negative way, you are much more likely to make the situation worse, rather than better, by continuing to play. Some players are completely incapable of forcing themselves to walk away when thing have gone awry. These players seem incapable of accepting any loss, and as a result, they often stay in the game until they have lost everything. This is obviously degenerate behavior in which you should not engage.

The key to avoiding situations like this is to set conditions for your play and to stick with them. For example, you could set a loss limit. This should be an amount that you can afford to lose, and it should not make you more than mildly uncomfortable to lose it. If you should reach your loss limit, you accept your loss, walk away from the game, and go home. This prevents you from ever entering the downward spiral that can ensue. You could also set conditions for your standard of play. In a poker game, mistakes beget mistakes, and desperation begets desperation. If you catch yourself chasing on large pots, calling when you do not have the pot odds to do so, or otherwise playing poorly, you walk away for the day.

The bottom line is that getting stuck is a part of the game of poker, and how well you handle it can have a major impact on your bottom line over the long run. How well you play will also have a major impact on how often you get stuck in the first place, and how often you can recover afterwards. But simply playing well is not enough. You also have to maintain a healthy psychological approach to the game, and be able to see the connections between your mental approach, the actions you take when you play, and your results. This starts with knowing when it is the right time to just walk away.

Usage: Hot and Stuck, Stuck Like a Pig, I'm Stuck, Stuck in the Game, Got Unstuck, Stuck and Steaming

Previous Poker Term: Structure
Next Poker Term: Suck Out


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