How to Deal with Down Swings in Texas Holdem Poker
A down swing is an expression used to describe a period of time when a player’s win rate is lower than expected. Even the most skilled poker players will have a down swing at some point.
They Aren’t Real
Down swing really don’t exist in reality, they are only part of a players psychology. Even though down swings don’t mathematically exist they are real in a player’s head and should be treated as they are real.
Many experts and books try to make poker a science by throwing out complex mathematical equations. Math is only part of the game and dealing with psychological barriers like downs wings is essential to being a successful poker players.
Downs wings and Winning Players
You really can’t have a downs wing if you are not already a winning player. If you consistently lose you are not on a down swing, but rather need to improve your skills.
A player on a down swing is defined as a player that has had a long period of time with a positive win rate with a substantial streak of losing.
What Down Swings Really Are
In reality down swings are the result of a number of hands with positive expectation going negative. The observation of these losing hands gives the perception that you are on a downswing.
Each hand is a random event that is unrelated to each other. As humans are brains see a pattern where one does not exist.
You may hear a player say that they are on a down swing but they believe it must be time for an upswing. This can’t be possible as all their previous hands have no effect on future results.
What to Avoid
How you respond to a downswing can be the difference between playing through it or compounding the situation by starting to make bad decisions.
Below are responses that you want to avoid:
-Losing confidence in your skills
-Moving up in stakes to get your loses back
– Changing the way you play
– fixating on loosing
How to Respond
There are a number of things that you can do to properly respond to a downswing. The simple answer to dealing with downswings is not changing anything. Continue making decisions that give you positive expectation over the long run.
Before a Downswing
Preparing for a downswing when you are winning can’t stop one, but it can get you in the right mindset.
When you are winning prevent yourself from believing that it will last forever. Know what a good win rate is and think of anything over that as positive variance.
Stick to your bankroll limits. When you are winning your bankroll limit may seem too high, but when you do go on a downswing this limits will keep you from going broke.
Downswings can cause long periods of tilt without you even knowing it. I am not talking about what you normally think of as tilt, a player going all in with 7 deuce after a bad beat. Tilt can be much more subtle.
Trying to get back to even is a sign of tilt. Even having this cross your mind should put you on alert. This can cause you to play to loose or even to tight mucking draws with positive expectation hoping your next hand with give you the nuts.
Play for the Long Run
Think of you poker playing in terms of months and years rather than hands and sessions. This will keep you in a mindset that can play through downswings.
Make the Right Decisions
Focusing on making the right decisions on each hand over profit will help you avoid making a downswing last even longer due to poor pay. Emphasize making right decision rather than making a profit.
Logic over Emotions
Leave your emotions at the parking lot or in your bedroom if you play online. Making logical decisions will always over come downswings in the long run. If your emotions are getting in the way you need to stop playing and walk away.
Dealing with downswings in difficult even for the best poker players. Knowing that downswings are only part of the psychology of poker and that they can be overcome by continuing to play correct poker will help you through them. It will also help you recover your bankroll faster.
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