Upswing In Poker: The Dos and Don’ts When You Are Running Hot
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There is really no better feeling in poker than the high of riding the upswing, winning every session you play, and crushing your opponents’ souls left and right.
Those who play recreationally live for this feeling, while pros know it’s a thing that comes and goes.
If you intend on playing poker for a living or are already doing so and struggling, I have some tips for you to consider when you are on the upswing.
It is important to remember that upswings are just a part of poker, and they do always end, with downswings being just as big a part of the game.
For that reason, let us go over a few things you should and should not be doing the next time you go on an upswing and are feeling the rush!
What to Do When on the Upswing
Play Your Game Consistently
The most important thing to remember when going through the highs and the lows of your poker career is to always maintain your game and play the best you know how.
During upswings, it can be easy to think that you should start playing more hands because you are “running well” or that you should be bluffing more because you might “get there.”
The truth is that any good or bad run can end or get interrupted in any hand. There is no reason to believe you will hit or miss your draws, so playing the poker odds and your best game is the only way to go.
Good poker players don’t think about how they are running at all, and you should be in this category as well. Make sure to always play the best poker you know how. This will produce the optimal results in the long run.
Focus and Observe
The fact you are doing well is only an additional reason to stay focused and keep observing what everyone at the table is doing.
Winning should keep your spirits up, so you can stay on top of your game and exploit other players’ tendencies, reads, and more.
A good run should never be a reason to let your guard down or start playing on autopilot.
You should still always calculate the odds, look at the size of the pot, and keep a good grasp of the effective stack in each hand.
The more focused you are, the more you will be able to make out of your upswing. An important thing to avoid during such sessions is spewing chips in hands where you don’t need to, as many players have a tendency to do.
Review Your Sessions
Whether you are on an upswing or a downswing, you should always be reviewing your sessions and making sure you are not making big mistakes.
You should constantly work on your game and try to get better. This can be a bit hard when it seems like you are playing amazingly since you are winning so much money.
While on an upswing, you should look at your hands objectively and determine how well you played in particular spots, regardless of the results.
Remember, cards will not always come your way. Hence, you should make sure that the plays you are making are maximizing your value and not just that you are winning actual money.
What Not to Do When on the Upswing
Don’t Be Reckless with Your Winnings
One thing that many poker players, especially those playing in live games, like to do, is splash around with their winnings when they are on an upswing.
You will often see players win big in a poker game and celebrate in a big way, spending a good chunk of their profit.
While it is OK to celebrate your wins, it’s also important to remember that upswings are temporary.
If you spend all the money you made during an upswing right away, you will not be able to compensate for the losses when the downswing finally happens.
You should make sure to always keep building your bankroll and adding some of your winnings to your overall poker money. That way, the downswings will not set you back too much.
If your goal is to move up in stakes, you should treat any winnings you make at the poker tables as poker money exclusively until you reach the stakes you want to stay at. Of course, if you need to, it is OK to spend some money when you are doing very well in the games.
Don’t Be Results Oriented
Poker is not about winning or losing, poker is about making the right decision, or at least that is what Doyle Brunson used to say during the Poker After Dark intro.
For the most part, this is actually true, as the the results of any given hand or session don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
If you have ever played poker, you have surely seen some terrible players win on the night and some great players get beat into the ground.
At the end of the year, the great players are licking their chops with massive profits under their belts, while the terrible players are wondering why they are suddenly running so bad.
You should focus on maintaining your focus, playing your best game. Don’t worry about results of any particular session as long as you know you played at a high level.
Don’t Move Up the Stakes Too Fast
When you are winning big in a game, it is easy to start thinking you are the best player who ever walked the earth.
This is usually not true, and you should remain humble during your upswings, just as you should remain confident during the downswings.
One of the impulse moves that inexperienced players make when they are winning is to move up the stakes and sit down at the bigger tables.
The problem with this is that upswings are completely fictional, and things change from one poker hand to the next and session to session.
What I mean by this is that just because you ran good today in your $1/$2 game does not mean you will run good tomorrow when you sit at the $5/$10 table.
For this reason, moving up the stakes should be a conscious decision you make after carefully examining your results and your play and building a big enough bankroll to sustain the swings of the new level you plan on playing.