Winner's tilt?

MattPMattP Red Chipper Posts: 98 ✭✭
I hope this doesn't sound like a humblebrag, but I've been running good the last couple months. I've been playing well, but also clearly catching the good side of variance — getting good starting cards, winning a lot of coin-flips, connecting with flops, catching turns or rivers to out-draw villains.

But prior to that, I was on the other side of variance. Had probably my worst downswing since starting to play seriously more than a decade ago. Like many of you at some point, I imagine, I went through an truly horrible stretch where I felt like I might never win again — the cards, my luck, and my judgement all seemed off for months. I felt like I was transparent, easy to read, easy to exploit. It was bad enough that it drained most of my bankroll and I stayed away from the game for the better part of a year.

Anyway, bring it back to the present. Despite running good, it's possible I've developed a tendency to "go into the vault" when I'm up. Part of me is eager to keep the streak going and log another win; scared that variance will turn the tide again. Call it PTSD from the previous downswing — part of me is spooked that a wave of bad luck and bad cards is just about to strike again. The last two sessions I've called it a night earlier than I think I might have if I hadn't been up big — instead of stopping at midnight, I suspect that if I was still at 100BB, I'd keep going until later. And in both cases, the tables were loose and beatable. I suspect other players would want to keep trying to run it up. But if I'm honest, my instinct became a bit protective of my gains... making me tighter rather than looser with a big stack.

Anyone else ever struggle with something like this? Any ideas on countering this mental leak? Or is this maybe not a leak at all?

Comments

  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    MattP wrote: »
    Anyone else ever struggle with something like this? Any ideas on countering this mental leak? Or is this maybe not a leak at all?

    I'd strongly suggest re-framing these questions: they presume that your choice to get up while ahead rather than continue at a possibly beatable game is necessarily bad. I don't agree with that premise. It's only your third question that opens up the possibility that it is not a leak, but that's after the first two belie your predispositions.

    Short answer: you're up, you're feeling good, and you have reason to believe that staying at this beatable table will cause to lose money and/or lose confidence. So, get up. Easy.

    Longer answer: perhaps you optimal session is shorter rather than longer... Yeah, I know that we're told that we need to develop the physical and mental stamina to play marathon sessions, but maybe that's just not your A-game. If this is your A-game, then learn how to optimize it.

    Once you're feeling realllllly good about your shorter-session and profitable play -- where one or two losing sessions won't kill your confidence -- then you can experiment with extending your play a little bit at a time if you're feeling up for it.

    It's only a leak if you can play longer sessions profitably but choose not to out of fear of losing what you have won.
  • SliverOverlordSliverOverlord Red Chipper Posts: 323 ✭✭✭
    Short answer: you're up, you're feeling good, and you have reason to believe that staying at this beatable table will cause to lose money and/or lose confidence. So, get up. Easy.

    This is gold. Whether your working on a short roll or working or building confidence and working on your game, this is a very solid strategy to build momentum. But make sure you're working on your game so you are ready to be like @Faustovaldez123 and sit across from all comers ready for battle.

    Reading the original post reminded me of a recent podcast I listened to with a amateur cyclist turned journalist. When he was 19, at the top of his game he had a nasty crash that injured him for about a year. He talked about how coming back to train, he couldn't bring himself to push the limits anymore, fearful of the next accident and he gave up cycling. For us poker players, we are going to get SMASHED by variance, but we have to be ready to hop back in the saddle and lasso the bull.

    @MattP Why do you think its an issue that you play tighter when deep? In some lineups, especially against people who you know you can out play and are also deep, its definitely the right move to open up and attack, but if you're in lineups with a lot of short stackers or good aggressive regs who are also deep, playing tight might actually be the better play.

  • zampana1970zampana1970 Red Chipper Posts: 546 ✭✭✭
    @Wiki_Leaks I can't even begin to tell you how good this post is. Thank you!
  • Wiki_LeaksWiki_Leaks Red Chipper Posts: 563 ✭✭✭
    I'm glad you found it useful, zamp. Time and time again the mental game seems to either make or break me. hopefully it makes us moving forward.
  • keith ckeith c Red Chipper Posts: 142 ✭✭
    I often find if I get up after a couple of hours of running good, I walk around eat, maybe stop 20$ in a slot machine. I come back and find it easier to get up from the table. So I can rack and bag a decent win.
  • AkashicAkashic Red Chipper Posts: 67 ✭✭
    keith c wrote: »
    I often find if I get up after a couple of hours of running good, I walk around eat, maybe stop 20$ in a slot machine. I come back and find it easier to get up from the table. So I can rack and bag a decent win.

    So YOU are that guy who is gone from the table for an hour, comes back and racks.

    Not cool.
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,392 ✭✭✭✭
    MattP wrote: »
    Anyone else ever struggle with something like this? Any ideas on countering this mental leak? Or is this maybe not a leak at all?

    Fixing mental game leaks begins with awareness and self honesty - so you have made a good start. If this fear of loss is causing you to make poker decisions that aren't the highest EV than it is a leak.

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