Still more thinking about downswings

There is another angle I’ve been considering today.  We’ve already discussed the players who become despondant during their losing streaks and tilt off money.  Some of them will tell you the rueful tale of the day they took a shot at a bigger game, lost several hands and tilted off most of their bankroll.  This is clearly the worst possible way to handle a downturn and is the cause of more broke poker players than any other single factor.

There is another kind of player I see posting on-line quite often and they are making a different, but still costly, mistake.  They are usually a player who has played for some time and is justifiably pleased with their results and skills.  They typically have amassed a database of significant wins over a lot of hands.  Eventually, they experience a serious downswing that spirals out of control to a massive downswing.  As a smart player, they are adequately bankrolled and have no risk of going broke.   However, despite the mounting evidence of their uncontrolled losses, they insist that they are still playing optimally.  They refuse to seriously consider if their play has deteriorated or if they have failed to adjust to the changing play of others.  When confronted with the suggestion that they must be making some mistakes, they insist that they are proven winners and that it is all just bad luck.

A recent ITH poster described a 2,200 BB downswing over 175,000 hands and seemed certain that he wasn’t making mistakes in his play.  He belives his true win rate to be 2 bb/100.  He plays 10 tables at once and has posted about tilt control issues in the past.  This kind of confidence becomes quite dangerous.  It may be possible that he just happens to be the six sigma guy, but it is far, far more likely that he is making a number of errors in his play.  Refusing to consider that possibility has likely cost him a lot of money.

It is important to note that a prolonged downswing doesn’t mean you are a losing player, but it may mean that you are a losing player at this moment.  Spend extra time reviewing your hand histories and looking for signs of leaks.   I try to devote a significant portion of my poker time every week to review hand histories and look for things I’m unhappy with.  I have almost never looked at several hundred hand histories without thinking I made some mistakes in those hands.  I’ve corrected a great many of them and I’m a better player because of it.  If you aren’t reviewing your hands regularly, you are cheating yourself out of an opportunity to improve.

As far as my play,  things have been looking up for me lately.  I spent some time relaxing with my family and playing poker in the downtime.  I was using a very wonky wireless connection from some neighboring beach house that dropped a lot, so I played on Stars (their software handles this much more gracefully than Party).  The 30/60 game at Stars is not always running and it is not always good when it does run, so I played more 15/30 and I’ve been doing well again the past week or so.  I also mixed in some qualifier double shootouts to the $160 WSOP DS and to the Sunday million.  I won two of three, so it was a nice break and a good success.  I also played a low buy-in rebuy sat and would have won that, but for a lost connection of about 30 minutes.  It was a turbo, so 30 minutes was an eternity.  I don’t know if it was the change of pace or the less aggressive Stars 15/30 game, but I felt much more in control again.

It is official now.  I wired my entry fee to the WSOP Event #6, so I’m playing come hell or high water.  I hope that my lovely wife is going to come along and cheer me on and make up for my losses in the side games.

By Nsidestrate

I'm a hard-core limit ring game poker player who is becoming a degenerate sports bettor. I'm sure it will all make more sense if you read on.