Handling downswings and choosing a strategy

CrdjohCrdjoh Red Chipper Posts: 2
Hi there fellow grinders.

This is my first post to the forum. The red chip poker podcast got me here.

A short introduction is that I am an 19 year old European high school grad working a year abroad. I work 7 hours a day and have been playing poker for some weeks now for around 5-6 hours after work. During this time I have been studying some - mainly listening to the red chip podcast, watching some videos and reading a lot of articles.

I think I am in total of 150$ minus, despite only depositing 50-75$ when I hit the buttom. This is mainly because I cannot handle losses and downswings, so I raise the stakes when low on cash. You probably already figured how that's working.

Now the problem is, I can't really control this. If I "just could" I wouldn't be writing here. I really want a solution to this though, as I do wanna play and eventually be profitable playing poker.

The second issue I'm having is that I don't know what's my go to kind of poker. I play NLHE and have been doing around 1/3 of cash games, mtt and SNG's. How do I figure out what's good for me?

I know this is questions I'm supposed to solve by myself. I hope, however, as a new and young player, that some of you experienced guys can give me some guidelines to follow and perhaps figure it out by myself eventually.

Best regards


  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,659 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2016
    You better take that rock in your shoe and get it out as quickly as possible. Introspection, that is where you'll find the answer as to know if you are built to ride this roller coaster of emotions that Poker will put in your heart but mostly in your soul. Games should be for everyone but this particular one is not, and figuring it out quickly should be mandatory. Can you overcome the good old saying "what's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh" ?

    I wish you luck with that, i've been to that party.
  • CrdjohCrdjoh Red Chipper Posts: 2
    Thank your for the reply, Adam.
    I'll be honest and say that I am not sure if it's for me yet. It's nice, and a bit scary, to know that I am not alone on this rollercoaster of emotions.
    The quite is quite fitting by the way, nice one.
  • uglytunauglytuna Red Chipper Posts: 130 ✭✭
    It takes the right person to play poker. If you are taking the game seriously and want to get better you need to have discipline. Sure you need a lot of poker traits to be successful but if you don't have discipline you won't last very long. Also these are mental game issues, I recommend read Jared Tendler's book called the Mental Game of Poker. Excellent book regarding these kind of issue. Good luck.

    Greg 'Tuna' Candido
  • bardorodeobardorodeo Red Chipper Posts: 32
    I agree that mentally Poker is a great teacher of patience and discipline. Tendlar's books are good. I also highly recommend a video series that Tommy Angelo did for DeucesCracked called "The Eightfold Path to Poker Enlightenment" and a little book called "The TAO of Poker" by Phillips. They're all about reducing tilt (we're all human so we can't totally remove emotions. Hey even Spock had his temper tantrums!) And some emotions are necessary and positive for one's poker game. Competitiveness helps humans make decisions and be willing to work on improving themselves.

    Another tip is to drop down to stakes where you can focus on the joy of learning the strategy and skills of a very complex game. This is a part of learning discipline and mastering your ego to enable you to drop down in stakes without feeling like you're missing out on the bigger money or are embarrassed.

    Personally I struggle at this issue (and still do) while working on improving my game. Then I realized, hey, it is far more embarrassing to play and lose at a level I'm not ready to play yet. Do yourself a favor and play at stakes where losing sessions have no real impact on your financial situation. Then you can focus on learning to really enjoy the game for the game's sake.

  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    a few things you need to take into account:

    poker is a game.... but it's a game where winners make money and losers go broke.
    there is a cost to playing this "game." and because of the way it's played - this cost can be depressing or frustrating because even if you do everything right - you can still lose.
    this is not a game you should play with money you need to live on.

    poker is "gambling" because luck does factor in the equation. poker players call it "variance" - but at it's root, it's luck. If you find yourself increasing your stakes levels after losing in the lower levels, you're probably trying to recover your losses by gambling at a higher stakes. This is faulty logic. If you can't beat the lower levels, moving up will not help you win more. It should cause you to lose more.

    you'll find a lot of good advice on these forums - but don't be fooled to think that this good advice came from reading a book or two and then playing a couple of weekend sessions. It takes thousand of hours/hands of practice/application (and losing with the best hands) to get a true feel for the game and understand the most optimal paths to choose. And even then, you'll often find some smart poker minds with 10+ years experience and a successsful track record who will disagree on how to "best" play a hand, a table or a session. (The game is far from "solved.")

    So what's my point?

    Don't play if you can't afford to lose. If you do play, expect to be a losing or break-even player for a long time. If you do play, the most important thing to work on (more than your ranges) is not tilting. If you can always keep a clear head and your mind sharp - you'll figure out everything else. But if emotions cloud your judgement and decisions - you will have a HUUUUUUGE mountain to climb to become a winner.

    BTW - although poker is poker: cash games, MTT and SNGs all require very different strategies to win. If you're going to become a winner - you need to choose one avenue and study those tactics. (There's a reason Phil Hellmuth sucks at cash games and Phil Galfond only has 2 WSOP tournament bracelets to his name.) Pick the one that you enjoy the most and master it before moving to another. Each field will have specialists that are doing so - so if you try to become a Jack of all Trades - you will have a hard time succeeding as a new player.

  • nicnameksnicnameks Red Chipper Posts: 57 ✭✭
    Stop being scared to lose. Nothing you mentioned is a downswing.

    Do these things:

    1. Decide whether you want to give poker a serious shot or not.
    2. If you do deposit significantly more than the stakes you'll be playing. Like $500 (or Euros or whatever you guys use).
    3. Split time between the lowest stakes SNGs, Cash, MTTs, Spins, etc. See what you like the best after some time.
    4. Don't look at results. This is part of reason we are over rolling. The money shouldn't affect you mentally.

    This isn't to get into other things like studying, analyzing your stats, etc. I just think you need to find out if you really like poker, and what game-type best matches your personality.

    Lastly, can 19 year olds play at casinos in the UK? If you can take some money your not afraid to lose and hit up a poker room for a much different and imo better experience than online poker.
  • volcanovolcano Red Chipper Posts: 346 ✭✭
    I get huge swings, if you dont you are doing something wrong.
  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 4,082 -
    Crdjoh wrote: »
    I'll be honest and say that I am not sure if it's for me yet.

    The thing is that you will have to curb the 'how to handle downswings' thing whether you continue with poker OR quit. Real life is a road where a downswing or shitty reality comes out of left field whenever for whatever reason. Learning how to handle the ebb and flow of life is more valuable than thinking we can control it...

    Poker forces you to learn that lesson (otherwise the game breaks you). Whether you quit poker or not, learn this lesson and even if you quit poker the money spent working on this lesson will be FAR cheaper than the price of learning it later down the line...
    📑 Grab my custom poker spreadsheet pack right now.
    📘 Start the Preflop & Math Poker Workbook today.
  • Adam WheelerAdam Wheeler Red Chipper Posts: 2,659 ✭✭✭✭
    volcano wrote: »
    I get huge swings, if you dont you are doing something wrong.

    So Leatherass and Nanonoko were playing wrong the whole time ?
  • Jimmy3150Jimmy3150 Red Chipper Posts: 372 ✭✭
    Universities should start offering degrees in poker, just as an indication of how much studying is required to do well (3 year bachelors degree, followed by masters, then PHD). I've been playing poker for 2yrs but if I took my exams I wouldn't even pass...
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,007 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Jimmy3150 wrote: »
    Universities should start offering degrees in poker

    We're not quite at the full degree yet.

  • bardorodeobardorodeo Red Chipper Posts: 32
    Lots of good feedback. Thanks for the question and the advice by everyone.

    I think everyone who plays poker for a while will experience frustration when on a downswing. We can't stop being human, and thus we can't completely shut off our emotions (unless we're some kind of sociopath).

    Here are some things I've read that have helped me when experiencing a downswing:
    1. Accept poker for what it is. A strategic game that involves chance. If there were no chance, there would be no opportunity to make a profit.
    2. Remember that no one is entitled to win at poker. If you buy some chips and play a cash game, or if you buy into a tournament, the ONLY thing you are entitled to is the right to sit at the table and play the game. No matter how much you've studied, practiced, or how many years of experience you have, you are never entitled to win that hand or session.
    3. Accept that in poker and in life Everything Changes. Accepting change is one of the tenets of Zen teaching in which students work on not attaching themselves to the past, or to a pre-conceived future. But instead accept and live in the present moment. If you attach yourself to the past or to an imagined future event you open yourself up to being hurt and suffering by resisting the inevitable, (e.g. I finally got pocket Aces on the button against that drunk guy who's been playing crazy all night. I expect and deserve to win this time.)
    4. Play at stakes you can afford. Despite what the WSOP and PokerStars marketing departments want us to believe, poker is not a get rich quick scheme. It is just a game.
    5. Randomness is difficult for the human brain to accept or deal with. Our brains have evolved to try and put a cause and effect on things in the world. (e.g. that rock hurt my foot, so try not to step on anymore rocks, or that sabertooth tiger looks hungry and ate a guy last time so run away if I see another one, etc..) This helped humans survive as a species, but it doesn't help us cope with truly random events. Cognitive scientists have done experiments in which people are presented with different groups of number sequences and are asked to identify which were randomly generated by a computer and which were created by another person. The majority of people chose the ones that were generated by other humans, and not the truly random ones created by a computer. Why? Well the series of numbers created people tend to be evenly distributed (e.g. 3, 8, 9, 1, 7, 4, 6, 2, 5, 8, 1, 3, ...) and the one's that were computer generated would often have the same number repeated in the series (e.g. 2, 2, 4, 8, 3, 3, 3, 5, 9, 9, 9, 1). So remember that the next time someone goes runner, runner to make quads after you've flopped a full house and have attached yourself to the imagined future of winning a huge pot. It is rare, but a properly shuffled deck of cards is truly random and you may never have the same 52 card sequence of cards in the deck in your lifetime of playing poker.
    6. But here is a trick to use this information about randomness. Since the cards are truly random and we can't change that. Luckily for us humans tend to be more predictable!!! That is great news when playing poker because you have a much better chance of taking advantage of people's predictable habits while playing poker. Ed Miller's book Playing the Player or Doug Hull's Poker Plays you Can Use shows some great ways to do just that. Strive to outplay the person you are playing against, not the randomness of the cards you're dealt.




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