As the majority of us are keenly aware, every time that we sit down at the poker table is not going to be a winning session. Unfortunately, there will be times that we will lose even though we played our hands perfectly and made all the correct decisions. Poker downswings are a factor of variance, and something any good poker player must be aware of. Being a successful poker player requires a great deal of skill, but luck is also a factor in the game and will play a part in the outcome each time we choose to sit at the table. Luck can sometimes get the best of us for long stretches or periods of time, resulting in huge downswings. This is just a fact that poker players must come to accept. Failing to acknowledge and accept periodic downswings whilst playing poker can lead to poor decision-making and going on tilt, which makes the downswing even worse.
Poker downswings usually take on the form of nothing going right at the table. Many times, they include a streak of poor starting hands, seemingly one non-playable hand after another. You attempt to wait patiently for a good hand to play. Then, your in the hole will get hammered by an Ace appearing on the flop. Your two-pair will lose to trips. Your A-K will be looking good on a flop of , only to get sucked out on a spade flush on the river. These runs of bad luck do happen to everyone from time to time. However, when in the throes of such a streak, it often appears seemingly never-ending.
Managing your poker downswings
One fact to keep in mind during a poker downswing is that you basically have no control over the situation. There are not any better reads of your opponents or a perfect playing style that will stop such a bad streak from ocurring. Many times, players will start questioning their own ability and begin to think that they have lost their skill or talent in the game of poker. This lack of confidence can lead to altering of playing styles, which usually means expanding your range of starting hand selections and other forms of poor decision-making that can make the downswing worse and spiral even further out of control.
Players often wonder what can be done to stop a downswing. The answer is actually quite simple. Absolutely nothing. Although that may be of no consolation to a player mired in a seemingly endless run of bad cards and bad beats, it is the honest truth. As long as you play a solid game and don’t allow the unfortunate string of bad luck to make you go on tilt, you are doing absolutely nothing wrong. You must remember that all players will experience such downswings on occasion. The game’s luck factor has taken a turn for the worse on your game and must be accepted because you cannot control the luck quotient involved in poker.
So what should be done when experiencing a poker downswing? The best tip or advice is to perhaps take a break from the game for awhile. A couple days away from poker can sometimes do wonders in clearing your head and allowing for a much needed break from the mental rigors of playing poker. It helps to try and keep a positive mental attitude and to realize that light will appear again at the end of the tunnel. Upon returning from a break, you can start fresh with a relaxed and rejuvenated mindset knowing that downswings happen and you did all you could based on the factors that you can control. The law of averages will balance again at some point following a break from the game and things will eventually return to “normal.”
The game of poker is characterized by frequent ups and downs where your bankroll can skyrocket one day, only to hit rock bottom on the next. The highs of winning can feel awesome! Unfortunately, poker downswings tend to feel much worse than their upswing counter parts feel good. Accept there is nothing that can be done to stop some losing sessions that are punctuated by runs of bad cards and bad luck. Its imperative to remain calm and cool, try to let the downswing run its course. By maintaining your focus while in the throes of a downswing and continuing to play your best game, you will go a long way in minimizing losses that can escalate out of control if you allow a bad run to get in your head and get the best of you.
Don’t forget that sometimes stepping away from the poker table for a time could be the best remedy for a downswing. Every poker player is subjected to periodic episodes of bad luck and bad cards. It’s normal and it happens. It’s statistical variance. Just remember that the law of averages will balance the scales and the next big upswing where you can do no wrong and everything seems to be going right may be on the horizon.