Arts & Entertainment

Daniel Negreanu on Poker

Playing a Rush

You’ll occasionally find yourself in a poker game where it seems you can do no wrong. Every hand you play comes out a winner and lady luck is definitely on your side. This is known as playing a rush.

Depending who you ask, you’ll get a variety of advice on what you should do when the cards keep coming and you’re on fire. One thing’s for sure, you should never leave a poker game that you’re destroying.

If you’re winning most of the pots, then by default, other players are losing; now’s the time to take advantage of their potentially weakened mental state. At minimum, continue playing until the rush appears to be over and you’ve given back a bit of your profit.

The real question is whether you should change your playing strategy in the midst of a rush since you’ve been so lucky.

Many players, even including some professionals, believe that when you’re on a rush you should play almost any hand to keep the hot streak alive. For example, if you’ve just won three hands in a row – with K-K, then A-Q, then 6-6 – they’d advise you to play the next hand, even if you’re dealt 10-6.

Well, there is a major flaw with this thinking.

Let’s say you flip a coin and it comes up heads nine times in a row. What are the odds that on the next flip it will be heads again, even though heads is on a “rush”?

The mathematical truth is that the tenth flip is still a 50-50 proposition. What’s happened in past coin flips, or poker hands for that matter, has no statistical bearing on the outcome you’ll have on the next hand.

That means you should play any single poker hand the same way you would have had you not won the last few hands.

That’s the simple answer, but there is a bit more to it than that.

If your opponents are convinced that you are in the midst of a mystical rush, use that notion against them. You own a psychological edge; the other players will believe you’ll win any hand you play.

You’ll also project a powerful table image that will allow you to bully and bluff your opponents who will by now feel like punch-drunk boxers.

However, keep in mind that the same can be said in reverse when you’re dealt a bad run of cards.

When your opponents believe you’re running cold, they’ll be more likely to try and bully you, thinking that you’re hard-luck streak will continue.  This makes it difficult for you to play aggressively since your powerful table image is now long gone. Your bluffs won’t work as well, either. In fact, other players will try to bluff you back more often because they no longer fear you.

If you’ve been losing and are on a cold streak, you’ll need to make some significant adjustments to your playing strategy. Most importantly, play fewer hands until things start to turn around. And in marginal situations, where you could go either way, play more cautiously and with patience.

 Playing a rush will happen in poker. The problem is that you can never know when it will begin or end. Stay in the present and don’t dwell on your past run of good luck or bad. Instead, focus only on playing each individual hand the best you can.



Visit to submit your questions and comments to poker champion Daniel Negreanu.


© 2006 Card Shark Media. All rights reserved.