Poker, particularly tournament poker, seems like the easiest game on the planet when it is going your way. This crazy game we all love would have you believe that it is possible to flop top pair every hand, turn straights in three-bet pots, find your aces looked up by pocket kings with alarming regularity and other such niceties.
How you cope and deal with losing at poker can often be the difference between you being a winning player and a losing one.
But, and it is a big but, when the Poker Gods are not looking down on you with fondness in their hearts, poker can become a major chore and an extremely difficult game to break-even in never mind win at. Nobody likes losing but here are a few tips on how to deal with doing just that.
How you cope and deal with losing at poker can often be the difference between you being a winning player and a losing one. I have played this game long enough to realise that and have seen scores of fellow players bust their hard-earned bankrolls or simply quit the game when their chips were down because they could not accept losing.
This particular article comes at a perfect time because you see I have been on a horrible run of late and it had started to have an effect on my thought processes. At the start of the month I reached a number of final tables and everything was great. However, in order to find my last tournament cash you have to go back 22 tournaments otherwise all you would see next to my records are horrible minus figures written in a red font.
Twenty-two non-cashes may sound like a lot of tournaments and if you apply a monetary value to these losses then they would be quite substantial but what you need to learn is that not cashing in 22 tournaments is nothing at all to be worried about and is certainly well within the realms of normality. I looked up the statistics of a professional poker player who has over $1,000,000 in winnings thanks to over 30 outright wins, 140 final tables and over 500 cashes. He cashes in around 15% of the tournaments he enters yet his longest streak without a cash stands at 51 tournaments! In fact he has not cashed in 15+ tournaments at least 42 times from around 3,300 games played; and this is from a winning player! My own personal "record" stands at a tilt-inducing 38 non-cashes for those who are interested. Do some research into cashes and non-cashes so you fully understand the variance involved in tournament poker, that way it will not be as stressful when a bad run hits.
When you feel like you are running bad it is oh so tempting to go back to the drawing board and make sweeping changes to your game because you feel you are playing badly. Until you have studied your play in great detail do not make any wholesale changes to the way you play otherwise you may as well set fire to your bankroll. I last played a session of tournaments on Thursday when I played nine of them in total. In seven of the nine I was eliminated pushing all-in from late position with 10-15 big blinds and running into much better hands but this has not deterred me from moving all-in with a similar sized stack in future --to do so would be pretty ridiculous.
The fact of the matter is I made a play that I would make every day of the week, I believed it to be the correct play for the situation and I stood by it. The fact I lost the hands does not make it wrong and certainly does not mean I should stop open-shoving in the same situation again. Go through your hand histories with a fine toothed comb and look not only for errors but for good plays you made that did not come off. You may find that you are making some basic mistakes but you will almost certainly find that you are still doing things right and it is the cards not falling your way.
To round this article off I will leave you with a couple of bullet points that should keep things fresh in your mind the next time you are running badly.
Embrace and remember the times you ran overly well to help you realise the Poker gods are not against you all of the time.
- Do some research into variance so you know what to expect and what is possible in this crazy game.
- Discuss your play / hands with like minded people.
- Go through your hand histories to look for errors in your play but also to find areas that you are continuing to play well.
- Remember that a play that has a positive expectation will yield results eventually.
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