A few weeks ago I experienced a pretty bad downswing playing heads-up Omaha, In retrospect I guess Its amazing that I have not experienced this kind of downswing yet and I have that to be happy about.. )
I have thought about downswings allot lately and how we should handle them. We talk at great lengths about hands, positions and other aspects of playing poker and I feel the one topic that is not talked about enough is the poker mindset and how we deal with ourselves during these bad moments..
I can say with certainty that I have mastered dealing with all opponent tenancies, strategies and recognizing and adapting to their mental states, what has alluded me is the ability to master my own. I can recognize when I’m tilting – and today compared to 2 years ago my ability to play through tilt has improved however I know I make mistakes that otherwise would not be made in a clear and passive mindset..
Being good is not enough.. Being great is not enough.. Being the best in your game is not enough!! sometimes, we are going to lose in a bad way to perhaps the worlds worse player making the worse play in the history of poker! has this happened to you? did you think all this time it ONLY happened to you? are you surprised it happened to me as well? I have news for you – It happens to everyone who ever learned what a bad beat was!! we are not unique, we are not the most un-luckiest players ever! the site is not rigged! if you do not understand these as absolute truths then you are ignoring a huge part of poker.. We must all realize that no matter how hard we try, no matter how truly great at this game we may be, we are not entitled to win. I played vs a guy last week that I have played more than 8k hands against, and I know his style very well – He is truly terrible at HU O8 and yet he beat me for almost $800 did I play bad? No! its just the law of averages had caught up and after 13 losing sessions vs me he was due one
As a professional I need to define my ability based on the bad runs, not the good ones. We can all appear to be genius when our hands are holding up and are draws are hitting. How we play during the bad runs gives a far more accurate glimpse as to our true ability. I see bad players running like god and making hands over me and they actually play better so the reverse must also be true.
Realization that both downswings and tilt will always be prominent in poker is very important. Everybody tilts! It is only the degree and way in which we tilt that we must be aware of and learn to control.. I am a better tilting player today than I was a year ago, and I hope to keep improving..