We all hate it, we don’t want it, but we have to deal with it. We can’t avoid it, but there is a way to live it better and accept it. I am talking about the downswing.
In this article, I want to share the experience from playing millions of poker hands. I would like to open your eyes when it comes to downswing. Make no mistake, this is not your usual article on how to deal with difficulties. It’s more about drawing conclusions, being better prepared and, in a way, making downswinging less intense.
Falling in love with your hand!
Let’s start with one of the most striking mistakes: falling in love with your poker hand. This is very common for beginners and even intermediate players. I’m not just talking about preflop, I’m also talking about what happens after the flop.
People like to pretend to be calm and relaxed in most everyday situations or not be aggressive at all, but when it comes to poker, they lose control of those same emotions. In many cases, it’s not the result, a failure or a bad beat that causes pain, frustration or aggression. This is often caused by the lack of hope being “too high”. This can apply at the macro level (i.e., “I’m going to win a lot of money in poker”) or at the micro level (i.e., “I’m going to win his whole stack with AA”).
When you hit a set, your heart starts beating and you already can see the money going into your bankroll. Unconsciously, we become much more tied to our hand and the pot than we should be. In reality, we might only win the pot 80% of the time. We should also be prepared to not win the pot at all. In fact, at that point, we didn’t win any money at all. We won nothing. Nada. By building such an expectation, you expose yourself to much more frustration, despair and anger which will impact your future decisions and lead you to a downswing!
The next time you are getting AA or KK, play the hand without expectations and be prepared for the worst. This doesn’t mean you should be negative, but your expectations should match reality. You will win with Aces only 80% most of the time. So, every 5 times you’re going to lose, and the poker gods don’t give it away equally. Very often players forget this and when you win the entire pot, which is 100%, you’ll exceed EV, because only 80% of the pot belongs to you and you apply the same thing next time.
The same applies when you run deep
People keep looking at the money from the first place, already picturing how much they will win. Even figuring out how they’re going to spend all that money. Once you have defined this expectation in your mind, any other result will be nothing but disappointment and your concentration will diminish. One of the secrets to playing without pressure at the final tables is that as a player, you never know how much money you can win.
Most of the payment structures are the same and once you feel confident in the spots that include ICM, you should do the same. The benefit of playing without pressure will enhance your game and make it much easier to recover from a possible tilt. You don’t need to know the numbers. If it’s something that scares you, you may be playing for too much money at the moment compared to what you are able to accept mentally.
It is important to play according to your technical and mental level the limits that suit you. It is therefore important to know who you are, what can be called self-awareness, your strengths and weaknesses, and your ability to manage the stakes and the pressure related to them.
When you are on tilt and your big hand doesn’t hold, this advice can help you: every time you have a big hand, imagine that only 80 or 90% of the pot belongs to you. And every 5 times, you will lose, sometimes several times in a row.
Of course, this is not a cure for downswing, but it will make you more resilient, because you have trained your mind to be patient. This can lead to less dramatic declines in morale.
This set of tips does not help you to avoid the downswing, however it can help you to better apprehend it and to be in a more positive and realistic mental state about the situations you may encounter at the tables. The mind in poker is something essential to work on, remember one thing: Your mind is all about performance.
Apply now this tips and you’ll immediately become a better poker player.