Dealing With Downswings in Poker – Expert Tips by Fedor Holz
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Learning how to deal with downswings is one of the most important aspects of poker. Due to the natural variance that comes with the game, downswings are unavoidable and absolutely normal.
And when I say downswings, I mean losing money week after week. For many tournament players, there are times when you can go for months at a time where you are simply losing money.
These periods are very mentally challenging, but, as I said, they’re perfectly normal.
So, in this article, I’d like to talk about the ways I learned to deal with poker downswings and hopefully help you do the same.
Tackling Downswings Head On
Back in 2015, when I was on top of my poker skills, I also experienced one of the worst downswings in my career, stretching from January to November of that year.
I had a lot of great results along the way, but I was playing an insane volume, and despite these results, I was constantly losing money.
For a long time, I didn’t talk about it, and that was one mistake you need to avoid.
You need to share these emotions. The first thing in dealing with downswings is accepting them. Then, it is about your perception of them.
I’ve changed my perspective to see downswing, not as these negative things but rather as opportunities that allow you to focus on improving your mindset.
It took me a while that I didn’t have to feel bad about feeling bad. If you feel like things aren’t going your way, you tackle the problem head-on.
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If you focus on a particular negative feeling, like getting unlucky all the time, you start living in construction where it feels like life is somehow against you.
Getting unlucky in poker is a part of the game. You want to get unlucky in poker sometimes because that’s exactly what attracts many players to it – the opportunity to get lucky on occasion, and sometimes they’ll get lucky against you.
Instead of complaining and focusing on your bad luck, try to shift the perception in this direction that helps you grow.
Focusing on Long Stretches
Another great way to deal with poker downswings that I’ve discovered was focusing on long stretches instead of particular moments.
When you get unlucky, the question you want to ask yourself is: is this something that I’ll still think about in one year’s time?
If the answer is no, then the event itself is probably not that meaningful.
This is something that really helped me focus on things that I can do to improve and grow as a person and as a poker player instead of fixating on something that I have no control over.
All this being said, it is still important to be able to talk about your emotions.
Talking about downswings will help you put things in a different perspective. When you talk about something, it often loses some of the edge, and you’re able to frame it in a more positive way.
Having these reflection points, talking to people close to you, a therapist, or someone else, will be very valuable in the long run.
Everything I’ve talked about in this article applies to more than just poker, though.
We’ve all been in situations where you feel like life is against you, and things aren’t going your way. Instead of keeping it all inside, talk about it, share it with friends, and you’ll come out stronger on the other side!
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