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Help with mental game

    • hanusmarek
      hanusmarek
      Gold
      Joined: 10.05.2012 Posts: 128
      Hello guys, I am facing a problem with my mental game. Few days ago everything I do in poker stopped working. I am playing only NL2 (with some shots to NL5), which I am not crushing, but till now I was somehow winning. Right now the downswing is about 25 buyins. Is that normal? Problem is that I am starting to question everything I do, I am calling in spots I should fold thiking that there is no way they can have that again...I guess everyone knows the feeling.

      Do you have any tips regarding materials that deal with these problems?

      My graph so far:
  • 17 replies
    • la55i
      la55i
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 27.01.2013 Posts: 8,489
      I definitely know that feeling.. A couple of times I have lost over 10 stacks in just a few thousand hands and I know it can totally destroy your mental game.

      When I look at your graph, it looks quite nice. You have played over 100k hands profitably, so I doubt that you are a losing player on those limits. It is very much possible that you just hit some bad run that was hard on your mental game and then the downswing got even worse because you lost confidence in yourself and started playing bad.

      What really helped me with my mental game was reading The Mental Game of Poker 1&2. So you could try those :)

      Also, check your graph and see what has happened during those hands. You can see that at about 10k-20k hands you had a big upswing. Those are possible and one of those can start tomorrow. Just find the focus and confidence. Try to play your A-game. And if you get tired or feel even a little bit of tilt, close the tables.
      You can also see that you have had downswings before. You have had some 10 stack swings and you have always recovered. There is no reason to think that you wouldn't recover from this.

      Sometimes poker sucks. It is part of the game. Just when you are crushing and feel very good, it takes your confidence away. But then it is important to remember that it is normal and will happen to everyone at some point.
    • MyFloXyBabY
      MyFloXyBabY
      Platinum
      Joined: 15.02.2010 Posts: 3,217
      I've just been losing 8 stacks in my last thousand hands on stuff such as villain 4bet bluff 89s and the flop comes 567... :D
      (But I've been running good recently so that was to be expected.)

      You seem to be suffering of a problem of accumulated negative emotions, and it's often the hardest mental challenge to deal with.
      If that makes you play differently you have a problem. You should stop more often, play less hands, take some pause altogether to work more on your game (that helps thinking about something else that you control more and that puts your poker brain back on tracks), or breathe deeply and try to remind you to stay calm and focused on your usual playstyle.

      Beside the 2 Tendler books (which are just a must for any serious player), there are good psychological videos on this site from LuckyLukePS and whysoserious for example.
      Recently a good coaching replay from Lemon about mental game in his serie Back to school. About everything possible was mentioned in there, then it's just up to you to find what you are lacking and put up the work into the right direction.

      Make also sure you're doing some sort of sport and meditation in your daily life, sleep and eat well and all, I know all that doesn't sound sexy but it really helps thinking clearly throughout hard times.
    • hanusmarek
      hanusmarek
      Gold
      Joined: 10.05.2012 Posts: 128
      Thank you both :-) Will check them out
    • zetozinho
      zetozinho
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.06.2017 Posts: 292
      What I like to do when downswings attack is just reduce the number of tables. When you are losing and keep losing you will start to make wrong decisions due to tilt.
      A thing that I find extremely useful is to keep the focus on every single hand.
      Another thing I do is to set a time for the session duration. If I say I'm quitting at 6p.m I just quit, despite the results.
    • SDK1987
      SDK1987
      Moderator
      Moderator
      Joined: 12.11.2008 Posts: 39,560
      I think the The Quick Guide to Skyrocketing Your Poker and Life Productivity thread can help you as well with this problem.

      Cheers,
      SDK1987
    • Primrose6789
      Primrose6789
      Silver
      Joined: 01.07.2016 Posts: 3,169
      Oh yes, I know that very well, my graph looks pretty similar I lost about 30 buy-ins (MTT) nothing worked out, just junk hands, suck-outs, loosing hands with which I jam as favourite or jamming frequently into monsters, when a downswing strikes, everything bad comes together and it can be very nasty! Variance can be really nasty and a pain in the bum bum :rage:

      What I use to do is putting in more volume and moving down one or two limits. I use to grind it out as quickly as I can, always focussing on the long run! Note: The long run can be really very long, you have to keep in mind that you have to play hundred-thousands or even millions of hands according to get close to the statistical values (like winning AK vs A3 in about 70 % of the times).

      Always focus on the right play, always focus on the long run, always keep in mind that you have to play lots and lots and lots and even more hands to come close to statistics.

      If it´s very bad, take a break, spend one or more days away from the tables. You´re getting mentally distance from your bad run and think about your hands again a day or two later, normally I use to realize that everything that happened was normal and like THAT nobody can win (how can one win when AA and KK gets cracked by something like 67o?). If you´re not sure about your play, ask for help, ask someone or the community to take a look at some hands.

      If you play right, if you don´t tilt and put in enough volume the winning will come again soon.

      As cash gamer you can quit your session anytime, so when you notice that tilt is coming, quit for a while, take a break until your mindset recovers and continue then. Tilting makes everything worse, keep that in mind, I always say to myself: "If you tilt now, you gonna loose even more". Have a game plan and an "emergency game plan". As MTT player I cannot just leave the tables. So when I realize that I can´t play my A-game, I immediately switch to tight-agressive ABC-poker for a couple of rounds (I´m normally loose-aggressive). This not only helps to recover but that I can do comfortably on "autopilot".

      Always focus on WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO according to your game plan (and GTO)!! Do not focus on the money, focus on your game, on the moves you have to make!

      That´s why I have my BR blinded - balance hidden on every room I play. This helps a lot not to focus on money and winnings but on the game itself!
    • OrigamiPoker
      OrigamiPoker
      Silver
      Joined: 27.10.2018 Posts: 66
      It's an all to common feeling that we all go through in poker.I would suggest tightening up and just going back to the very basics until you get some confidence back.
    • MyFloXyBabY
      MyFloXyBabY
      Platinum
      Joined: 15.02.2010 Posts: 3,217
      Originally posted by Primrose6789

      Always focus on WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO according to your game plan (and GTO)!!
      But it's so hard to achieve by thoughts alone... :coolface:

      No, I couldn't let it pass by. I had to troll. :sifflote:
    • Primrose6789
      Primrose6789
      Silver
      Joined: 01.07.2016 Posts: 3,169
      Originally posted by MyFloXyBabY
      Originally posted by Primrose6789

      Always focus on WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO according to your game plan (and GTO)!!
      But it's so hard to achieve by thoughts alone... :coolface:

      No, I couldn't let it pass by. I had to troll. :sifflote:
      Guess a good running gag cheers all up who have to go through a downie :s_cool: :s_drink: :s_thumbsup:
    • Primrose6789
      Primrose6789
      Silver
      Joined: 01.07.2016 Posts: 3,169
      Just speaking of cheering up - after your session is important to do something to cheer yourself up, watch a good movie, to something for your soul. I use to watch a movie I like when my session didn´t go well f.e. After a bad session you can do something that takes your focus away from the tables, away from poker and makes you think about "real life"-things :s_grin:
    • MyFloXyBabY
      MyFloXyBabY
      Platinum
      Joined: 15.02.2010 Posts: 3,217
      Music is usually a good cooldown candidate. I play the guitar sometimes and it's really amazing how it helps getting the session out of my head as it's using other parts of my brain.
    • zetozinho
      zetozinho
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.06.2017 Posts: 292
      Speaking of music, there's nothing better than play drums to exale tilt!
      I love to do it.
    • Primrose6789
      Primrose6789
      Silver
      Joined: 01.07.2016 Posts: 3,169
      What is also great: Doing sports before the session. Your body is full of endorphines, you´re happy and calm, you´re WAY less tilt-prone.
    • MyFloXyBabY
      MyFloXyBabY
      Platinum
      Joined: 15.02.2010 Posts: 3,217
      Make sure to get enough rest though, as being tired can play against you. I usually have to let several hours go after my bike session before being able to play poker, but I'm not the sporty guy, so maybe it's just me.
    • Primrose6789
      Primrose6789
      Silver
      Joined: 01.07.2016 Posts: 3,169
      I figured out that the work-out shouldn´t be too hard, then indeed it works against you! So a moderate to light work-out.

      After a long bike-tour I almost fell asleep at the tables and played fishy :f_ugly:
    • ChraftyBridges
      ChraftyBridges
      Bronze
      Joined: 07.03.2018 Posts: 54
      I went through a similarly soul-crushing experience this past summer. On the day that my confidence was at its lowest this video was posted to YouTube:

      Listening to these guys, at that time, was like therapy for me.

      Hope it helps bud!
    • LemOn36
      LemOn36
      Coach
      Coach
      Joined: 07.02.2009 Posts: 2,114
      did a vid on this last series
      https://www.pokerstrategy.com/video/45804/

      basically you do 2 things
      1) quick temporary fixes - music, motivation, breaks, meditation, resting, stop loss, sports, whatever else
      And
      2) hard long term fixes - writing down thought process when tilted, and then working through them one by one over the long run (steps on how are in mental game of poker or the vid)

      The big one you are pretty much guaranteed to struggle with when you start and don't have that much experience is understanding and accepting variance on an unconscious level. Heck I still struggle with that one after being a pro for around 4 years now :P