Ahhh. The dreaded downswing. It happens to virtually every poker player within our careers. The feeling the nothing is going your way, you can’t win a hand, and nothing seems to be going your way. In fact, everything seems to be going wrong!
This can lead to a downward spiral if we don’t take action and change the trajectory. But how can we overcome this? I’ll share a few tips that have helped me a long the way.
1. Evaluate your play. Self awareness is key in poker (and in life). Make sure you’re not the problem. There’s always room for improvement & sometimes we are blind to our own faults and blame the run of the cards but in actuality, we might not have been playing optimally.
It’s important to remain humble. No one has all the answers in poker. There’s always room for improvement no matter what your skill level. It’s easy to blame the runouts or the cards. But were we putting ourselves in the right situations? Possibly. But there’s always another side of the coin.
It’s helpful to bounce hand histories off poker friends to see other perspectives.
Always look for areas to improve in.
2. Take a break to reset. For me, this means take a few days off, relax, do other things I enjoy. Shake off the tilt feeling or any of the frustrations. Get some good workouts in, hang out with friends and family. Make sure your mind feels renewed. It’s important to come back feeling refreshed.
I love coming back to poker after I break. I always come back feelings rejuvenated and motivated to play well. If you don’t feel like this after a break, I would suggest a longer one. You don’t want to come back to the tables still holding on to any negative feelings.
Life is about balance. It’s important to not have all your eggs in one basket. If poker consumes your life the highs are going to make you feel on top of the world. But the lows will be treacherous. Having other interest will make it easier to have perspective when the bad beats come in poker. Because it won’t seem like the end of the world.
3. Study, study, study. There’s always room for improvement. Continuing to study takes our mind off the results (bad or good), and helps us focus on trying to make the best decisions over and over again.
This going along with evaluating your play. But taking action on this is where you’ll see Greer improvement in your game. I know it seems hard to want to study while in a downswing. But believe it or not, it may bring about some new motivation. Every time I study and learn something new I’m always eager to get to the tables and try it out!
Lastly, the more I’ve come to understand the true nature of what poker actually is, the more I understand that we are not guaranteed anything. We could be one outted 5 times in a row & the harsh reality is that’s just the randomness in poker. It happens. Taking the emotions out of it as much as possible will help us cope with the times we feel like we were wronged (“bad beats”).
I highly recommend the book: The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler. It’s a great read, I hope that helps! Cheers