What is ‘Running Bad’?
The term running bad can be applied to a player in poker who has a run of bad hands and thus losses as a result of those bad hands. It doesn’t mean that a player is any worse than other players or has less experience or skill, but instead means that despite their playing to a good standard and making statistically sound decisions, they are still unable to win a hand.
‘Running Bad’ Explanation
If you take a sample of good quality poker players who all know how to play poker and how to make good strategic decisions based on the scenarios they are given, then you would expect that in the long run they would all win and lose a relatively equal amount of hands. A number of different factors will affect a player’s ability to win a hand, including the cards they are dealt, the community cards that are available and the cards that their opponents are dealt.
In the short run, like in the space of a few hands or more, it is to be expected that some players will benefit from great luck and get good cards to play with, while at the same time, other players will receive cards that are less able to give them a shot at winning a hand. Those less fortunate players would be expected to have a greater chance of losing a hand. You would therefore be considered to be running bad if you are one of those players who is receiving a consistent stream of more unfortunate cards and thus fewer opportunities to win.
If you are a practiced and experienced poker player then you will expect these runs to occur and be able to look past them and know that the opportunity to be running good will reappear. A player may decide to walk away from a game when they are running bad; not because they know this will continue in perpetuity, but more because it can have a negative ongoing effect on their mental ability to stay focused and spot winning opportunities.