a person who finds himself coping with a bad run in poker


Strategies for managing stress during a bad run

There is a quote about poker that I read a long time ago. It ended with something like “if you can’t lose you can’t play“. I honestly can’t find the source of it anymore, I hope I didn’t make it up.

It is a phrase that has stuck in my mind for some reason, perhaps because in just seven words it taught me to be a sportsman, not to tilts and accept that this is the way the game is. Losing is part of the game.Of course, handling the really bad times at the tables is not easy at all, and one should not recriminate oneself for not being able to do it. In short, don’t take the “can’t play” part literally.Now, however, many of us will know that actually taking care of how we handle the periods of bad runs is very important, because a bad run is an ignominious situation. It often leads us to play worse, self-feeding .

It is quite natural, and statistically it must have happened to all poker players. The problem is that it has strong repercussions on the mindset. It leads to losing confidence in oneself or one’s game, making rash choices in an attempt to catch up, reducing enjoyment at the tables, and generally tilts.

So let’s look at some systems for enduring hard times and dealing with stress during the bad run, to learn how to come out-if not winners-at least whole.

Double the study and analysis

There are two main reasons why increased off-table work can help:

  1. You can make sure it is bad run and not some mistake of yours (but you have to be honest with yourself!).
  2. It can make you fix some leaks and reduce losses, making the bad run more bearable

It can also straighten out your mindset, creating alarm bells about some of the mistakes you make when you’re on tilt. For example, a call that is too light, which you will remember later and avoid doing again.

A good tip is to seek advice from a third party, such as a friend or a Top1Percent coach, to break down a possible selective vision clouded by stress.


Devoting time to study is the first thing you should do when you are on a bad run

Accept the bad run for what it is

Have you convinced yourself that you are not playing worse than usual and don’t understand why you are losing?

The answer is: because it is normal for it to be so. Players often do not fully understand the magnitude of the famous long run.

In fact, everyone has had and will have bad runs, which will compensate, in a sense, for the periods that are too good for us. Remember that AA loses once in 5 times, so if you double up in a sense you will be lucky because you will have won more than you should.

Many examples could be given, but it is best if you try it yourself with this variance simulator. Setting 5bb/100 and 80bb/100 standard deviation, that still leaves a 16% chance of having downswings of more than 20 stacks, and more than a 27% chance of having a bad run of more than 30,000 hands.

Let’s emphasize it again: one in four times a winning player has a bad run of more than 30,000 hands.

Example of standard deviation poker

It is not easy, but it is necessary to accept that you will have a bad run in the same way that you can accept that sooner or later you will have a flu. Live with it peacefully, because it’s part of the game.

Take a break

Sometimes it is necessary to disconnect a little. Remember that poker is first and foremost a game, and if the fun goes away you can afford not to play.

No one is running after you, you don’t have to grind, but most importantly, you don’t have to want to grind if you don’t feel like it.

You may be in a negative mood that you may not even perceive but is preventing you from expressing your A-Game. Think about recharging your batteries, and then you can return to the field in your best shape!

taking a break may be a good idea

Level down or volume down

If you are a player who is still sensitive to the value of money in poker (you always need to work on this aspect) a bad run could stress you precisely in terms of money.

It might be helpful for you to play less (fewer tables and/or fewer hours) or at lower levels so that you can cut your losses in this bad period.

Be careful, don’t plan to “dump the bad run” at NL2 and come back up when it’s over-you can’t know when and how long it will last.

In any case, it can be helpful for everyone to contain their losses a bit, even while waiting for self-confidence to return. In particular, if the bankroll starts to dry up a bit too much, there is no shame in going down a level.

Heal your mind

As you work to accept the bad run, you have to create a good environment within yourself. There are many scientifically verified ways to soothe oneself.

A healthy routine with balanced diet, good sleep and regular exercise are the basis, and also spending a few minutes a day meditating or practicing relaxation techniques.

It should be emphasized: do not snub this advice as many do thinking it is new age nonsense.

That these (and other) actions are good for mental balance is an established fact, and if this can prevent you from playing badly during the bad run…it seems like the EV+ choice!

(Besides, it’s free, why don’t you try it?)

A proper routine is essential for a professional player

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