With the WSOP in town and everyone going for the dream, there has been a lot of talk about bad beats and downswings lately. I see and hear a lot of people screaming, crying, ready to break things and ready to quit this stupid game forever!!! This may not be what you want to hear but I can assure you that downswings are inevitable. They are going to be worse than you could have possibly imagined AND they will come to an end!
I think that people vastly underestimate how big a downswing can be and how big your bankroll needs to be in order to survive the dark times and make it back to the light! This is the reason why bankroll management will always be at the top of the list of skills needed to be a poker “grinder”. After all, you cant put in the volume without the roll to support it! Most would agree that you need between 150 – 200 buyins in order to be properly bankrolled for any particular MTT. That means if you have a $500 roll, you should not be buying into tournaments bigger than $3.30. If you are continuously taking shots at tournaments above $3.30 on this size bankroll you can be certain that without a lot of luck, you are guaranteed to go broke.
It is completely normal for a good MTT player to go 50 MTTs without a single cash. The best MTT players cash between 20% – 25% of the time. That means the good players are losing 75% – 80% of the time!!! This is the reason why making those top 3 spots as often as you can when you do cash are so important! When on a prolonged run of whiffs, these times are never easy. These times can make you feel like you are losing every flip, you are never getting there on your draws and every monster hand is getting cracked. The biggest key thing to survive these moments is to keep your head in the game. How you ask? Here is a list of a few things that work for me.
We talked about this one at length to kick this article off. See above :o)
I think a lot of tilt control comes with the confidence of knowing you are a good winning player. This is a tough one when someone is first starting out. For those out there who have not yet built this sort of confidence, take confidence in the fact that you are not going to be one of those players that lose their mind when things go south. Have the confidence that you are studying hard and putting in the effort that most are not and this will take you through these downswings and into the land of profit.
Study Study Study
One of the things that can really put a crunch on the ole bankroll is playing bad on top of running bad. This sort of thing can sneak up on you if you are not careful. You start to hear that voice in your head that says “F this!” I am just going to jam 150 bbs in the pot with my TT only to run into a flip or a dominated hand and the curse the poker gods when things don’t go your way. Or perhaps it is calling off in a terrible spot because “They cant possibly have it again!” only to realize that they do which is quickly proceeded by a string of curses to the almighty poker gods. Or another common one is punting off the rest of the MTTs you have running because “This game sucks!” Talk to your coach, talk to poker players you trust, post hands in forums. Make certain that you are running bad and not compounding issues.
Let go of your pride
I think another big contributor of tilt is pride. This is called entitlement tilt. I deserve to win this hand! This Tournament! Every hand! Every Tournament! All poker players think they are better than they are. All poker players think they deserve the dream. No poker player wants to drop down in stakes. But the truth is that this game is ever evolving. The poker community as a whole is getting better and better. That means the games are getting tougher and tougher to beat. If things are on the slide there is no shame in taking it down a notch to rebuild both your confidence and your bankroll and then jumping back up again when you are mentally and fiscally ready.
Take a break
Sometimes the really bad swings can take a huge toll on you mentally. Compound tilt is something where you keep your head together for as long as you can, but the length of your downswing and run bad build up to a point where there is nothing left to do but EXPLODE! If you feel yourself start to go down this path, take a break! One thing it took me many years to realize is that the $11 $10K will always be running tomorrow. And the next day. And the next week. For eternity! Spend some time doing things outside of poker that you enjoy. Clear your head. Come back fresh.
Remember that this is a game
Always try and remember, we play poker because it is fun and exciting. Everyone loves the potential to hit the big score but in the hunt for glory they tend to forget that this is a game. Always hold on to the memory of when you first started playing poker. Like I always say, poker is like life in a lot of ways. Lots of moments where you can choose to laugh or cry. If you choose laugh, I can assure you that you will have more fun playing and more fun living life as a whole!
I hope this helps! Stay tuned for lots more content from both myself and Muthafnlifecoach so that you can hear more about general wellness and mental game approaches from both the Life Coach and the Poker Players point of view!!!