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Tips for Dealing with Poker 'Swings' and Losses

Posted By KKPoker | 2021-03-25

We, being poker enthusiasts, all enjoy playing the game, especially when we are beating our opponents and winning. Nobody likes to lose at poker, so how you react to 'bad beats' and losing will shape you as a player.

Losing is an integral part of playing poker. Think about it; if nobody lost a hand, then nobody could win. The quicker you accept that you will not win every hand, the sooner you will find your overall enjoyment increases.

Below are some hints and tips that may help you cope with losing at poker. You may combine one, two, or all of them into your own overall mindset.

Take a Break When You Lose

You must know when to take a break if you are losing. Even a little short break is helpful. You do not want to prolong your losing 'session' into a losing week, month or even year. Continuing to play to "get even" is a dangerous thought, and playing more poker to win more is never guaranteed.

You have to set your own 'losing limit' and have a figure in place, either for tournament buy-ins or cash game stakes. When you reach the 'losing limit', you need to take a break from playing until you regain complete focus and calmness. Your 'losing limit' could also include the number of hours you spend playing at one time or in a day.
The 'losing limit' helps you maintain confidence and comfort to enjoy your poker games more.

Practice Bankroll Management

Having proper bankroll management is vital. Far too many poker players play 'under rolled', which means having a bankroll not suitable for the stakes they are currently playing.

Think of this example: would you rather lose $100 from a $200 bankroll or $1,000 from a $20,000 bankroll?

The second option is better despite the amount being 10-times the loss. Losing such a substantial chunk of your bankroll can hurt you mentally, which in turn leads to negative thinking and poor financial decisions.

Your poker bankroll must also be set aside from your everyday expenses so that your life will not be affected by your poker games. Having your poker bankroll separated and knowing this money may be lost can also take away some of the stress of losing.

Think of the Long Game

Whenever you play poker, be it cash games or tournaments, do not obsess over each 'session.'

Poker wins/losses should be viewed over a more extended period.

Studying hands from your poker sessions is a great idea but do not focus on the daily monetary profit/loss. Doing so can lead you to think overly negative about your poker performance over the past few sessions (especially if you have had numerous losing sessions).

Remember, poker is one long game. If you think of all of your sessions as part of one long game, you'll be less likely to be affected by the outcomes — good or bad — in a single playing session. You will have a more positive and stable mindset which is beneficial to your mental health.

Review Your Play

As mentioned above, go through and review your hand history files, especially the ones where you perceive that you've been unlucky to lose, to see if there were any areas in which you could have improved. Then the next time you play, you can focus more specifically on improving your game areas - this is the practice of many poker professionals.

By continually reviewing your play, you will improve at poker and make fewer mistakes, which should reduce the amount of losing sessions you will have.

Play More Poker

Sometimes when things aren't going your way at the tables, taking a break might be in order. But gathering more experience is also a great way to become better equipped to handle losing.

The more hands you play, the more you will experience both winning and losing and the more likely it is that you will be able to shrug off losing. Just make sure to practise bankroll management during this learning process.

Control Your Frustration

Losing at poker may harm your confidence, causing you to start questioning the game.

Losing is one thing, but making unsubstantiated complaints is quite another. Many of the best poker players have experienced losing at very high stakes, but for the most part, do not allow the losses to affect them negatively. They focus on the 'real' work – keep practising and improving their poker skills. Be a mature and reasonable player, not just for you, but for your fellow poker players.

Key Tips

If you need a break, take a break!
Play within your means. Only play with funds you can afford to lose
Bankroll management is essential to long term growth
Think of the Long Game
Remain calm in 'bad beat' situations
Poker is all about learning and growing for the long term goals

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