Five common causes of going broke and how to avoid them

Pretty much every player will go bust at some point in their career. There's no shame in this. What you can do though is to realise there are some common causes of this and there are actions you an take to avoid them. In this article we'll list five common reasons - 

1) Playing whilst drunk - playing whilst drunk may seem fun at the time but this is a guaranteed way of spewing your money away. Alcohol affects your concentration and thinking skills. Playing your 'A game' poker requires a sober mind and the ability to rationally think through decisions and to concentrate. Playing drunk you may find yourself spewing away your whole bankroll in one sessions, wiping out months of hard work. Not big and not clever!
There's two things you can do here - firstly, the ideal is obviously to not play whilst drinking. If you're having a few beers or whatever at home, don't turn on the PC/laptop.
If you are drunk and feel you absolutely must play then consider setting up an account with another poker room where you will allow yourself to deposit a small amount of money. This way you'll still get the buzz of playing whilst not wasting the 'proper' bankroll on your main poker room account. 

2) Playing whilst emotional - to play top quality poker we need to be in a calm, neutral mindset. If you're in a bad mood, upset, or even just over-tired, your play will suffer drastically as a result. Make a +EV decision now not to play under these circumstances. It will be especially costly if you hit a downswing whilst feeling like this and you're guaranteed to lose money. And definitely don't play if you have financial concerns in 'real life' - you'll just play desperate, poor-quality poker and that bankroll that you worked for will trickle away before you know it.

3) Failure to put time into learning and developing - to be a consistently profitable player you must commit to ongoing learning and development of your game. You must accept that there will never be a time where your game is completely 100% perfect, no matter what your ROI is or what stakes you're playing. If you're too lazy to read a book/watch strategy videos/post on forums/hire a poker coach then your game will suffer. Studying and developing your poker game is +EV whether you're a microstakes SNG player or a high stakes cash game specialist..

4) Improper bankroll management - conservative bankroll strategies may seem over-tight or plain boring. But they're suggested for a reason - they work. Being strict with yourself and not moving up stakes without an appropriate bankroll is the right thing to do. If you don't follow good bankroll guidelines then you're at the mercy of negative variance wiping you out and leaving you with nothing. Read up on what professional players suggest, and commit to following those guidelines no matter what.

5) Playing at too high a limit - players often move up limits too soon, through bad bankroll management, frustration/tilt, or just feeling that they already have the skill to do so. This nearly always results in failure, either through variance knocking out a too-small bankroll, or being out-played at a stake the player isn't familiar with and skilled at. If you are considering moving up limits, listen to your poker coach or other players who you trust. There is no shame in waiting and building up your bankroll and skill level before moving up in stakes.

We will cover what to do if you do go broke in another article. In the meantime avoid all of the above. Remember that you've put a lot of work into building your poker bankroll and think how angry you'd be if you lost it all by not taking action. Put aside regular time for your learning and development, never ever play drunk, stick to the stakes you're 'rolled for', and always play poker when you're feeling calm.

As always, good luck at the tables.