Coping When All Goes Wrong

Unfortunately, no magic elixir eliminates the fluctuations everyone experiences at Poker. But it’s little consolation when you’ve been buffeted by the ups and downs of fate to realize that you’re not the only poor soul tossing about in the same boat. When all seems lost, you need to remember this: There is opportunity in adversity. In fact, losing provides the best opportunity to examine and refine your own game.

Face it. Most players don’t spend much time in careful self-examination when they’re winning. It’s too much fun to stack the chips and revel in the money that’s rolling in. But when they lose, they pore over each decision they made, wondering how they could have improved it. “What could I have done differently,” they ask over and over. Losing turns them from expansive extroverts into brooding introverts whose thoughts bring them back to the same ground time and time again, in search of reasons and strategies that will prevent losses like these from ever happening again.

Change gears if you’re on a losing streak

While no guarantees about future losses are available, we do recommend one course of action to any player mired in a losing streak: Just change gears. We all change gears during a Poker game, sometimes consciously, as a planned strategy, and sometimes we just wind up playing differently than we did when we first sat down.

When you’re losing, consider gearing down. Way down. This is a time for lots of traction and not much speed; a time for playing only the best starting hands. Not marginal hands, not good — or even very good — starting hands, but only the best hands. That means you’ll be throwing away hand after hand, and it takes discipline to do this, particularly when some of these hands would have won.

When losing, most players want to minimize fluctuations in their bankrolls and grind out some wins. Gearing down accomplishes this because you’re not playing any of the “close call” hands you normally might. By playing hands that have a greater chance of winning, you’re minimizing the fluctuations that occur with speculative hands. Of course, you’re also cutting down your average hourly win rate, but it’s a trade-off because you are less apt to find yourself on a roller coaster ride. You can still win as much; it will just take more hours at the table.

Narrowing the target

Gearing down also prevents your opponents from kicking you when you’re down. When you’re winning, your table image is quite different than when you’re losing. Win, and you can sometimes bluff with impunity. It’s a lot tougher when you’re losing. After all, your opponents have watched you lose hand after hand. They believe you’re going to keep losing. When you bet, they’ll call — or even raise — with hands they might have thrown away if you had been winning steadily.

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