Saturday, 29 September 2007

Downswings and Break-even Stretches

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

Thanks Brian.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous20:23

    Very nice post! I couldn't agree more with what you said... I'm in a downswing now, and I think the hardest part is not tilting after I take a beat, I know there is no point in getting angry, your opponent did what you wanted, and the inevitable happened, his 8% came in and you lose a large pot. What makes this painful is when you've dropped down a level, a level that you feel you can dominate, that you see so many bad plays, then you take that hit and your BR drops further. Then you 4 bet a tag while holding 99 and call his shove because all your seeing is red.I fall into this trap sometimes, all it takes is the next couple hands and your down another buy in, typically I'm off tilt after 5 hands or so, so this period really damages my win rate. Taking emotion out of the game is so important, I believe this is the most important flaw in my game right now, without correcting this, all the moves in world will not help you when you take that inevitable beat or suffer a downswing, compounding it by tilting.