How to Deal With Downswings in Poker to Get Back in the Game
Are you experiencing a poker slump and wondering why it is happening to you?
Downturns happen to all poker players and have little to do with your everyday skills or how you implement strategies.
In this article, we will show you how to manage poker slumps and get back to winning again.
Understand What’s Happening
Downswings are not under your control. You may read the best strategy articles in the industry and use your best poker strategy but still end up losing. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do to make a slump go away.
Losing consistently at poker is something you need to be prepared for. Downswings happen even to successful professional poker players.
For example, poker hall of famer Daniel Negreanu, who has won over $46 million playing poker tournaments, has also suffered a number of downswings, some of them lasting years.
The average poker player tries to play differently to end a slump, but sometimes switching to new poker strategies only worsens the situation. In reality, it could be more to do with your mindset than your poker strategy.
The only thing you can do is learn how to deal with the prolonged slump and prevent it from destroying your career.
Tips To Recover From A Downswing
Below are a few things we think you look to do in order to deal your downswing
Take a Break from Playing
The best thing to do when you are on a downturn is to take a break and play less poker for some time. Play less frequently and learn how to convert bad beats into opportunities to master new strategies. We suggest listening to poker podcasts, exploring training sites, discussing your hands at forums, or reading poker articles like this.
Instead of worrying about bad beats, you can cut down your poker sessions and spend your free time analyzing your hands. Discuss your poker strategy with friends and coaches, and be prepared to receive constructive criticism with an open mind.
Do you have high expectations? You may have set unrealistic goals. Ask yourself if you are truly as good as you think you are. You may have a lot to learn before you can accomplish your dreams of winning big pots.
If you haven’t already done it, we suggest calculating your win rate, which measures how fast you win while playing cash games and tournaments.
The win rate for cash games is the number of big blinds you make per 100 hands. If you are a tournament player, you can calculate your win rate based on your returns per buy-in. For example, if you win $0.10 per $1 buy-in tournament you play, your win rate is 10%.
Your win rate tells you how much success you can expect while playing. Knowing win rates also helps you predict the nature of the downturns you may experience and figure out ways to handle them when they come.
Stick to Your Strategy
Your downswings have no impact on your long-term win rate. Only your mindset and poker strategy can have any effect on your win rate.
Many players make the mistake of changing their playing style during a downturn. They play tighter or looser or become more passive or aggressive. If you examine the game strategy of poker legends, you will notice that they have complete confidence in their style of playing and hardly alter it.
Have confidence in your style and the strategies you have learned, and you will break out of the slump and downswing a lot faster!
Reduce Your Stake
Experienced poker players minimize the impact of downswings by reducing bet sizes. Are you a high-stakes player who has lost several games in a row? You can consider playing mid-stakes games for a while to minimize your losses.
Mid-stakes games are less competitive and less stressful, giving you a better chance of beating your opponent. Smaller wins, if any, may boost your confidence high enough to enable you to return to high-stakes games.
Playing poker games at reduced bet limits may help you break free from the downswing. You can return to the high stakes poker games you usually play when you are ready.
Take the Help of a Poker Coach
Are you struggling to handle the downturn? A poker coach can help you improve your game and regain your lost confidence.
Poker coaches teach tips and strategies online. They host regular podcasts, post training videos, and operate lively blogs and forums.
You may meet players who are in the same boat through your poker coach. Discuss your situation with them and listen to their opinions and experiences to get fresh perspectives on your own game.
Do Not Let Downswings Impact Your Play
A downturn is terrifying, but do not let fear destroy your poker goals.
When you face adversities in life, you may fight, take flight, or freeze. Something similar happens in poker. When you are in a downswing, you may become more aggressive, stop playing poker, or adopt tactics to limit your losses.
Players often try to limit losses by avoiding risks. In other words, they play the game too tightly. While playing tight protects you from loss and distress, it also puts you at risk of missing several big payouts.
Players on a downswing may also make exceptionally large bets on strong poker hands in an attempt to recover their losses. Do not fall into the trap of playing emotional and chasing your losses.
You need to remember that a downswing cannot impact your long-term win rate. So avoid tampering with your existing poker strategy and learn not to make any emotional decisions. Just remember that you are not the only poker player in the world to go through a downswing. Rest assured things will always get better in the long run.
Start Every Session Afresh
Players in a slump often make the mistake of starting new gaming sessions but their minds are still bogged down with the frustrations from their previous sessions when they suffered losses.
When you start a new game, you must completely break free from the past. Think of it as a new game having nothing to do with the previous game. Do not play a new poker game based on your experience of losing in previous games.
If you expect to lose the current game just because you have lost the last five games, you better not play. Playing in a negative state of mind will never work in your favor, and chances are that you will lose this session too because that’s what you expect!
Start each new gaming session with a fresh and optimistic attitude. Have confidence in your gaming style and the strategies you intend to implement. Wipe out memories of previous sessions before you play because bad experiences of previous sessions can impact your current and future sessions only if you let them.
Slumps are Normal
If you allow a slump to result in a tilt, you have only yourself to blame. You tilt when you deviate from your best gaming style and make unreasonable gaming decisions because a slump has upset you.
A successful player accepts downturns as part of the game. They do not allow slumps to cause them to tilt. Instead, they learn how to deal with downswings, develop confidence in their playing style, and improve their long-term win rates.
Have you been playing poker for several years? Analyze your results every year or after playing a certain number of hands. You will soon realize that downswings have no impact on your long-term poker results.
Continue to learn the game and perfect your strategies. If you do this, you will no longer let downswings get the better of you!
Conclusion – Do Something Else Instead of Playing Poker
Now that you have learned more about poker downswings and how to deal with them, you should take what you learn and use it to your advantage.
Poker is a fantastic game, but too much of anything can make one miserable. Your downswing may also mean you are spending too much time playing cash games and tournaments. Doing something as simple as going on a vacation/seeing sights around or spending time with family, friends, and pets may be the solution to break a slump that has been going on for months or years. We recommend taking a complete break from poker and returning to it only when you feel fresh, rejuvenated, and confident!
Just like with everything else, when you’re on the end of a string of bad beats, the sensible option would be to take a break.
Perhaps go back to when you first started playing poker when you weren’t playing for money, but purely for fun or the love of the game. Rediscover your form, then get back in the game and watch the pendulum swing back your way.