The biggest leak in my game is...

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ph_il

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...Myself.

:warning: Long Post :warning:


Recently, I went on a very bad losing streak. I can take a few losses here and there, but when it feels like it just seems to happen all the time it really takes a toll on my attitude towards poker and towards my game. Like most people, I hate downswings and I hate feeling like Im currently the most unluckiest player in the world. My attitude becomes negative and I start looking for someone or something to blame. Now, I've never thought online poker is rigged so, I blamed the players and my bad luck.

This player is a complete donk and got so lucky!
This player called on a low flush with bad odds and caught it to bust me.
Im card dead, but when I finally catch a hand, my opponent has a better one!
How come someone always has AA when I have KK?
I play well, my opponent plays bad, and they get lucky all the time.


Whatever the situation is, I try to find some sort of justice in my loss because 'its just not fair' that Im losing so often. I even posted a few bad beats trying to find comfort in others who have gone through the same thing.

Even my attitude towards my own game was effected. I found myself playing even more passively than usual. Im a pretty tight/aggressive player, but after a string of losses, I just became tight. I was too scared to bet out on hands, I was too scared to call when I was getting good odds, I was too scared to do anything basically because I DID NOT WANT TO LOSE. I had that negative feeling of "no matter what I do, Im going to lose." I would not call bets when get great odds because I didnt want to risk my stack. I would not bet into an opponent who might be on a draw just in case they hit it, If I didnt bet I wouldnt lose as much of my stack and I could fold. I was content in winning a small pot then risking a big one.

Stupid, stupid plays.

Even my BR was effected because I was so focused on trying to make back that lost money. I played way too many games, I bought into games out of my BRM plan, and it was again because I was trying to find justice and a balance to my losses. I wasnt playing win, I was playing to break even. The more losses I took, the bigger the buy-ins were.

Then I realized, why is this effecting my game so much? I know that losing is a part of this game and everything, so why am I so bothered by this? Why am I trying to fix something I have no control over and not focusing on my own game? I had to make a few changes.

The changes:


On things I cannot control: What cant I control? I cant control how good or bad a opponent plays-I can try to exploit them, but thats it. I cannot control what cards are dealt, I cant control the outcome of any hand, and I cant control how lucky/unlucky a person is. So, why even worry about this? I should be worried about how I am playing and how I can exploit my opponents mistakes and weaknesses. And at the same time improving my game and trying not to make any mistakes.

On losing: I used to take each game as a continuation of the previous. Especially during a losing streak, I would almost expect to lose in this game. So stupid. Now, I treat each game as its own individual game, no matter the results of the previous game. Its like roulette: if I've been betting on black a 100x and its showing up red all the time, I shouldnt bet on red just because of the previous results since the probability of red or black hitting is still the same. The same with my games; either I win(finish first) or I lose (dont finish first). I have a 50/50 chance each game I play. And I have just as an equal chance as my opponents. If its a 45 player SNG, I have a 1/44 chance of winning. Even if Im playing against a table full of pros. There skill level might be higher, but each and everyone of them (like me) have to get past 44 other players in order to win. So, I treat each game as their own game and not let past results alter my play/my decisions.

On BRM: I really want to build a nice BR and I have a decent one going at the moment. My biggest problem before is I would always play outside of my BR. I'd follow a BRM plan for a bit, then I'd be so in hurry to try and build a BIG BR, I'd jump into games way out of my comfort zone and try my luck. Why? Who was I trying to impress with my BR? I've decided that I want to follow a BRM plan and work my way up. Slowly, but surely, right? I have a simple BRM plan that Im following and its basically a 30+ buy-in rule. No matter what the game is Im planning on playing, I need to have at least 30 buy-ins. Its a pretty easy plan to follow. I even stopped keeping track of my game wins and losses, because all that does is act like a reminder and sometimes that not something I want to see. Especially if I've been on a downswing. Now, i just follow the new plan.

On bad runs and taking breaks: A new rule that I've set up for myself is that if I lose 3 games in a row, I will take a break from any online poker for a few hours or longer if I need it and play again later. This way, I can keep my attitude and emotions in check just in case I do hit a losing streak. Also, I know my BR wont be suffering either since I'll be able to keep the number of games I play in check. I'll also have time to think about how I had been playing and figure out what I need to work on to improve.

I know that part of playing of poker is exploiting your opponents weaknesses and forcing them into making mistakes. The more mistakes they make, the more profitable it is for them. But what about my own personal weakness and mistakes I was making that effecting my game. My opponents were profiting off of me because of my mistakes. Not mistakes like a new player would make, but mistakes that were caused by a negative attitude and emotions based on previous results. The more I tilted, the more mistakes I made. Not only are you trying to exploit your opponents weakness and mistakes, but you're also trying to limit yours as much as you can.

And my biggest leak in my game, the one thing that was the root of all my mistakes, was myself. My attitude and me emotions.

Since then, I've changed how I view the game. Like mentioned, I treat each game as its own individual game. Past results do not alter how I play, nor will a current game's results alter any future games. I dont know if my game has improved or what. Ever since these changes, I've felt like my game has improved. Skill-wise, I might still be the same and Im working that, but on a more personal level my game is much more stronger. And if I do want to improve and get better, I had to focus on and change what has been my biggest weakness.

I know this isn't going to relate to everyone, but I do know that everyone will eventually downswing. Instead of focusing so much on the result(s) or how poorly your opponents play or whatever, focus on how it effects you negetively and in turn, how that effects your own game on a personal level. Like mentioned above-there are things we just cant control no matter how good we play, how good we (think) we are, or how much we know. So, focus that attention on what we can control, what we can change, and what we can improve. Look past the math, the probability and statistics, and focus on yourself for once. Some simple, minor changes can show some great improvement.

Results may vary.

ETA: This post is pretty poorly executed and I seem to be all over the place, but it was written off the top of my head. A rough-draft, if you will. I'll rewrite a cleanter version with better examples and wording another time....
 
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ph_il

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Er...whoops.
Can a Mod please move this into the appropriate section? I think its 'Poker General'.
 
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Kennyseven

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Good read Philthy. I have been on many downswings and I know how frustrating it could be. The thing I always ask myself during those dreadful swings is "did I play bad poker?". or "is there anything that can be learned from this". If I played bad then I can learn from my mistakes. I also tell myself that variance is part of poker and bad beats and coolers will happen. This is what keeps my emotions in check. Hope things will get better and hope this little tidbit helps.:)
 
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ph_il

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I know that variance, bad beats, and coolers happen. Its all a part of the game and I would tell myself that all the time. If I lost to a bad beat its "Hey, it happens." If I lose its "Thats part of the game." But if the losses keeps coming, it can effect even the most level headed players. And how much so someone who doesnt take losses well?

When I was losing I would ask myself "Did I play bad?" or "Did I make another mistake?" or "What did I do to deserve this?" (LOL) Then I start asking myself "Am I playing poorly because of my attitude and emotions?" And it turns out that yes, they were really altering my decision making and overall game much more than my opponents were. In fact, I was making more mistakes on a personal level. My opponents probably thought I was just a bad player....
 
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