Secrets of poker Poker

Don’t compound the downswings

Written by Ben Blaschke

We’ve all been there before. You get it in with K-K against an opponent’s A-K and they spike an Ace on the river. Soon after you’ve got A-K yourself but can’t win the race against Queens. You flop a huge hand with two over cards and the nut flush draw but miss the lot, then another opponent calls you down with nothing but a gut shot draw and somehow manages to get there. It’s called a downswing and no matter who you are or how well you’re playing there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

It sounds depressing and when you’re in the middle of one it is also eternally frustrating, but as nice as it is when you’re winning, how you handle these downswings might just be the single most important factor to your bank roll in the long run.

Why? Because players get emotional when they are running bad, emotion leads to bad decisions and bad decisions cause you to lose money. In fact, even if you’re in the midst of a downswing right now, chances are you’re actually losing a lot more than you should be because of your frustration at the situation. Trust me – I’ve been as guilty as anyone in this regard.

But time and experience are invaluable. The best players in the world aren’t just great because of their hand reading ability, they also know how to keep their emotions in check and make optimal decisions no matter what’s taken place in the previous hand, or the one before that.

This is something you should be working on all the time. Whenever you cop a bad beat or two, or you miss a few draws, focus on putting it behind you. Pay close attention to what you are doing in each hand and why. The temptation might be to open with A-10 Under The Gun as you look for new and unlikely ways to win some of that money back, but if you wouldn’t do it usually you shouldn’t be doing it now.

If you’re struggling with this, just stand up and walk away for 10 minutes. Take your dog around the block or grab a quick bite to eat. Remember, poker is a long-term game, not a short-term game so although it might seem that nothing is going right for you at any given moment, if you’re getting it in good the majority of the time then you will win in the long run.