Our Poker Cycle
Anyone who has played much poker at all should be able to relate to what I am about to say, but it is well worth reconsidering since we, as humans, tend to forget or fall prey to old and bad habits.
Sometimes we play well and seem to be "in the poker zone" so to speak ... when this happens, we are confident and focused and patient. We increase our ROI and win more tournaments than we lose. And, with all this confidence and winning, we begin to become over-confident ... we begin to play hands that we should not play (and, we actually do KNOW it just after clicking the raise or re-raise button OR worse yet, the all-in button). This over-confidence sometimes even breeds arrogance.
We then begin to start losing tournaments and begin to lose confidence, patience, composure and our MONEY. The "Cycle of Poker" has peaked and is now on a downward trend ... I think of it much like the normal "business cycle" or a "normal curve" that always takes place at some point. Life is that way too! Losing is a part of poker and life, as is luck ... one will never win all their tournaments. Recognizing this fact helps one change the downward direction of the poker cycle. When we are own this downward trend of the poker cycle, we have entered the "TILT WORLD OF POKER".
When we are on TILT, we tend (consciously or not) to deliberately do all kinds of things detrimental to winning ... we will tend to do exactly the opposite of what we know better ... do opposite of what we know that we should be doing. One thing or a combination of things can put us on TILT:
Playing too much poker; a bad beat or combination of bad beats, bad luck (on or off the felts); increased stress (family, business, or finances, etc.); health problems, etc.
Towards the bottom of this "poker cycle", we become annoyed, irritated, and sometimes even get angry. We tend to "think" we are playing the same as when we were winning, but I can assure you that we are not ... we have allowed emotions to interfere with our poker play whether we will admit it or now ... we have lost the "poker zone" that we were in when we were mostly winning. Have you ever been at this point in your poker? Have you ever wondered if continuing to play poker is simply a waste of your time? I have been at this point, have you?
Well, if you are there now, or ever have been, you should "recognize" that it is time to make some changes. I really think that even the Poker PROs have all been at this point before because, after all, it is what I call a "Poker Cycle" and nobody is immune to it. Some people's poker cycles cover a longer time period than others, but everyone goes through their own poker cycle.
I DIGRESS: As I write this, I can relate that "maybe" Tiger Woods is currently on the downside of his own "golf cycle" which in a time frame sense has become expanded over a longer time period than he is normally used to. Will he recover and get his golf cycle back on track? I think so, but because of several things, his up/down cycle will now forever be widened.
Back to poker. How do we overcome the downward part of our poker cycle and change it to a positive and upward direction? We must get back into our poker zone ... we must first "become aware" of where we are and then begin to purposefully change what we are doing.
Maybe the first thing would be to "step back", stop playing poker for a few days or even a week or two (only you can determine how long). Secondly, recognize what it is that has you losing (health issues, family issues, poker tilt, etc). Thirdly, begin to look at the big picture and determine not only what is putting you on poker TILT, but what can be done to change the direction and get you to winning again. Fourthly, recognize that to again be in our poker zone, we need to "stop trying to force" making things happen, but rather be composed, have patience, and be in control of ourselves. Time away from actually playing poker, reading poker books, watching poker videos, and maybe a complete vacation, will help us here.
Bottom-line: We need to do that which is necessary to re-gain our poker zone, our self-mastery, our confidence, our patience ... with "control and mastery" of SELF, our control of our poker game will return and we shall be on the upside of our "Poker Cycle" again.
Note: Be fully aware and recognize that there is a "poker cycle" and that you "will" re-visit the down side again at some point.
Hopefully, you will recognize your own "poker cycle" and be better able to deal with it in your future. Good luck and good poker playing to each of you.
My very best, Wally