Handle a downswing

A downswing brings many poker players, including really good players, to despair. There is no policy as to when a downswing starts or how long it lasts. You can not protect yourself from that, but you can behave properly and not make the situation any worse than it is. In this article we want to talk about the five most common mistakes you should avoid.

You can not affect the cards dealt, nor the luck-bad luck factor. Accept things as they are, sometimes it’s the other way around and the variance benefits you. The only thing you really control is your attitude and the decisions you make during the game.

How to properly deal with downswing in poker is actually quite simple, at least in theory. No matter if downswing or upswing, it must never influence your decisions. You must continue to make the decisions that have a positive expectancy and bring you long term money. It is of enormous importance that you do not change your own game.

Avoid the domino effect of downswing

A downswing usually takes a long time. It is completely up to you whether you keep the losses in the frame or make it even worse and thereby generate more losses than necessary.

During a downswing many players go through the following phases

  • The downswing gnaws at the mindset and leads to depression
  • Because of this, you do not play your A-Game because you are simply not free in your mind.
  • Your results will deteriorate unnecessarily
  • You begin to doubt your own game and change it unconsciously
  • Your win rate shrinks and increases the chance of a downswing

The whole thing runs until you have survived the downswing and possibly get into an upswing or go broke. In order to avoid such a situation, it is important that you are also clear in mind during a downswing and not even come into this phase of depression. This is easier said than done, because we are all human and nobody likes to lose in the long run. But discipline and a good minimum are essential in poker.

Realistic assessment of own win rates and bankroll

A realistic attitude towards his own win rates and bankroll management is very helpful.

Analyze your stats and find out what your realistic win rate is and let’s convince you that any overpaying profits just came from a small upswing. Do not imagine that you will have a consistently great winning session just because of it last couple of times went well above average. Especially beginners and inexperienced players are always unrealistic with their win rates during an upswing and tend to lose their reality, which quickly leads to a downswing. They imagine that they can keep this win rate for a long time, and then they are surprised when the downswing comes, which in most cases means that the player goes broke.

A solid bankroll management is the basis for long-term success. Many players wonder at the beginning why such a conservative BRM is recommended. This question then answers itself as soon as the first downswing has arrived. Good bankroll management is also important to play relaxed and quiet. It’s a completely different situation for your head if you have 60-70 buy ins on your bankroll, so if you only have 20 left. The smaller the bankroll the greater the internal pressure.

Know and understand the reality of a downswing

Dealing with a downswing is easy if you know what that means. There is no plan when a downswing comes, when it’s over and how hard it is. And even the best poker player in the world is not protected from a downswing and has to deal with it. A downswing is a phase where you have to take a big loss in several sessions, where you should actually break even or in plus  from all-in equity.

Poker players with a perfect mindset and attitude to the game would not even use the word downswing, just saying that they’ve been running way below average expectancy lately. If you can see it so relaxed, then you probably have no problem with your downswing.

As we have already explained, you can get down to a downswing badly and anyway we have no control over what happens before and during a downswing. It does not mean that catastrophically bad things happen at this stage. It is only a phase where above-average number of hands should be worse than expected. Always stick to the decisions that have a long-term positive expectation, no matter what. The variance recovers in the long term and the best poker players are those who survive the downswing with the least amount of damage.

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Daniel Berger

Hi Guys, I am Daniel the chief content manager of YourPokerDream.
I have been working in the poker industry for almost 10 years now.
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The last changes of the page “How to handle a Downswing correctly” was made by Daniel Berger on November 03, 2019