How to Deal With Downswings

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Poker Downswings

Loosing up to 10 buy-ins in a single day can happen when you’re playing cash games and it is one of the toughest things to overcome.  You have to remember however that poker is a game built around luck and even the world’s best poker players can’t escape “2-outer” suck-outs on the river.  A Poker Downswings refers to the short-term variance of your bankroll during a series of unfortunate games like these.

The fact is, downswings come in all shapes and sizes and even the world’s best players such as Tom Dwan can’t escape them.  He suffered a monumental $3 million downswing last Novemeber or to put this in perspective 40% of his bankroll.

The Psychological Effect of Downswings

Alot of players suffer from downswings and some break-down more easily than others.  For example a friend of mine called Andy plays NL500 and has broken his computer in recent times via an unfortunate sequence of events that involved a keyboard, a computer monitor and a series of depressing days without the internet.

Now in terms of playing strategy, a downswing also tends to have a big effect on performance.  Becoming “tilted” is an obvious sympton which involves making bad judgment calls in poker and ultimately leading to negative equity play.  However downswings can also reduce confidence in players, force them to play tighter at tables – or even cause them to skip down a level in order to be able to apply good bankroll management.

A Few Tips for Dealing with Downswings

Attitude, mentality and optimism are the most important ways of digging yourself out of a downswing in online poker. Some players will naturally give up on the game at this point, however  my advice is to maintain a positive attitude and keep to your regular winning strategy.  Eventually the cards will come, and things will start to balance out.

One of the best ways to get out of a big poker downswing is to take a break from poker – perhaps for a week or two.  This will help you escape a world of negativity and aggression and by the time you come back the tables you should have a more focused head.  I like to also do read about other pro poker players who’ve hit monster downswings to give me some  perspective and not feel like I’m alone.

A final way to escape downswings is to play games with less variance.  Multi-table tournaments and heads up games in particular have lots of variance.  I’d recommend sticking to 6-handed cash games or even small Sngs to start grinding a bankroll back up with less risk.

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