It’s no secret that ALL poker players experience downswings. Actually, one could argue that downswings do not exit as such. In fact they are merely an observed pattern in a random variable. Take flipping a coin for example: if you flick it enough times and record the results you’ll see many patterns - consecutive sequences of heads or tails. Poker is a game of high variance and small edges. Downswings and break-even stretches are not only likely; they are inevitable. Coping with a downswing psychologically is one of the most difficult things to do as a poker player.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes (I keep telling myself this when I run bad):
“Everybody will eventually run worse than they thought is was possible. The difference between the winner and a loser is that the latter thinks they do not deserve it.” – Craig Hartman
So what can we do when running bad? Firstly, we have to avoid the pitfalls: playing to get even, or even moving up a level; losing confidence, becoming depressed; making radical changes to our game, or going on tilt!
Obviously tilting is the worst thing a player can do, but avoiding tilt is not the only thing we can do. Dedicating yourself to improving your game is crucial!
Here’s my favorite, most inspirational poker quote:
“I have spent a lot of time playing poker in the past year. I completely immersed myself in poker. I have read every poker book, spent countless hours browsing and reading forums, spent even more hours analyzing my play and my opponents’ plays. And then beyond this I have played endless hours. I really enjoy playing and I think if you don't you will never reach your fullest potential. You really have to love to play the game.” – Brian Townsend