Playing poker is heaps of fun, especially when you’re crushing cash games and taking down tournaments. But what about when you’re catching no cards, hitting zero flops and being outrun by garbage? Nobody enjoys losing, but how you react to bad beats and downswings will shape you as a player. We take a look at seven ways you can turn that poker frown upside down.
Stop / Loss
It’s vital that you know when to stop if you’re losing. Winning at poker can breed confidence, but the opposite is true, and losing can affect your game in a negative way. The last thing you ever want to do in poker is to spiral, turning a losing session into a losing week, month or even year. It’s therefore very important that you have a figure in place, either for tournament buy-ins or cash game stacks, where you determine enough is enough. If you’re playing your A-Game and retaining complete focus, then losing won’t last forever. The ‘Stop / Loss’ line helps you maintain that level you need to stay at.
Practice Bankroll Management
Bankroll Management is another vital poker mindset to be in, and once again, it is far easier to do when you’re winning. Your poker bankroll must be set aside for your everyday expenses, and should you lose a proportion of your bankroll that means you need to step down levels, then it is imperative that you practice it. Poor bankroll management is such a common reason for players going broke or making serious errors that it should be one of your own poker commandments. Make it an unbreakable rule that you adhere to BRM at the expense of everything else in your poker game and you won’t go far wrong.
Think Long-Term Not Short-Term
One bad night should never affect a poker player enough to cost him or her money in the long-term. After all, the game of poker is never one tournament or one cash-game session. It is one long game and you need to see it that way. How much are you winning over the course of your poker lifetime? Hopefully, the answer to that far outweighs the loss in one session. It’s been proven that a positive mindset can have a massive benefit on things like profit, success and habitual happiness.
Take a Break
It is the advice no-one likes to hear, but if you notice that you’re losing and it is affecting how your play, then while you might be tempted to take our next piece of advice, a more rational choice would be to enjoy some downtime away from poker. A 12-hour session of poker can take a massive amount out of even a hardened pro, so time away from the game can be a great way of turning any bad spell around. Whether you enjoy a game of golf, a spa treatment or five or simply reading a book, detaching yourself from the emotional knock of posting a losing session can save you money in the long run. And, after all, money saved is money earned.
Volume Beats Variance
We’ve just told you to take a break, but after time out, putting in some serious game-time is almost guaranteed to sort out your downswing. Let’s say that you’ve lost twenty buy-ins in a row without a single cash in tournaments. It’s fifty? OK, well, worry not. Play 200 tournaments. Play 400. Practice perfect bankroll management and up your volume. Volume is credited by many players at the top of the game as what helped them. Suddenly, situations that might have surprised you are ones that you’ve witnessed a thousand times. Once you’ve seen every bad beat possibility played out, you become numb to them in a way which helps you deal with them happening to you.
Be a Good Loser
Taking hits to your bankroll is one thing, but feeling the emotional punch that comes with crashing out of a tournament on the bubble, or running into a bad beat when it’s for a top ten stack is quite another. The temptations to vent your anger are everywhere from normal human interactions to splattering social media with your anger and frustration. But you know what? No-one really cares! You’re not going to improve either your luck or your skill by doing so and it’s a waste of time. there are many different areas of poker you should focus on instead of talking about bad beats. Don’t be that person.
Reviewing and analysing your own play for mistakes can be one of the most gruelling things to do for any poker player and is often the part of being a professional that takes a lot of work for hopeful, talented amateurs. We’d all like to think that we play perfect poker, but the reality is quite different. Look into your game and pick out mistakes in every session, especially one where you perceive that you’ve been unlucky to lose. Bet-sizing, stack-size monitoring, three-bets, four-bets and whether you should have called or raised are just trigger-pointers for you to approach your losing session from a more analytical viewpoint. After all, long-term knowledge will always be more important than short-term losing!