re: Poker & Running Cold
In The Poker Mindset
the authors point out that downswings don't really have an existence of their own: they are simply patterns that the human brain recognizes retrospectively when viewing a large amount of data.
As such, they don't really have bottom/shape or a beginning or end/size. It doesn't make sense to think of them in terms of "I think my downswing as bottomed out" or "I have lost x amount so I am due to turn it around soon" or "I'm not due for another downswing for awhile now".
Unfortunately bad luck usually goes hand in hand with bad play to some degree, with losing due to variance starting to effect your play as well.
As such, taking a break might
be of use (but just don't think that you are "waiting out" the downswing, as it is just as likely to continue from further negative variance in your next session, whether that's tomorrow or next month).
It's very unlikely that an extended downswing is the result of only bad luck.
It's very unlikely that an extended downswing is the result of only bad play.
While they don't say it in so many words, the best way to deal with this phantom phenomenon is to ignore it
. After all, it doesn't really exist: it's just a pattern you are observing in hindsight in the data. Focus on making good (+ev) decisions at the table, and nothing else.
This is, of course, easier said than done with the human psychology.
An excellent suggestion that Taylor and Hilger make is to attempt to improve your game overall when in a downswing. When losing money you are losing money because of inherent errors (ones you would make anyway, winning or losing), and because of derived errors (ones you are making as a result of your extended losing streak).
By finding and correcting inherent errors in your overall game you will also get the following benefits:
1. It will cause you to be focused on making good decisions and playing well, rather than results, thus helping you achieve the overall goal of ignoring the downswing. This will consequently reduce derived errors.
2. You will be able to play with increased confidence, knowing that your game has gotten better. Increased confidence should lead to playing better/making better decisions (as opposed to sitting down and thinking you can't win because your downswing as effected your psyche).
Thus taking a break and doing some studying CAN be a pretty good way to get out of your (non existent ) downswing/losing steak.