The number one thing to do is to review your hands, if you can, as we want to see if we played well or if we contributed to the downswing being deeper and longer than it should be.
The key to downswings is protecting our bankroll we do not want to stop playing due to no funds so often we study our game and move down to lower buy-ins until we feel confident enough to play our standard buy-in levels again.
I think it's reviewing the hands, the games.
Being able to locate possible errors is the best thing to do.
Getting it, you will be able to adapt these errors to your game and be able to evolve in the next.
I just try to make sure I am not playing different, or more scared, and I take breaks. I am currently in a downswing that I am starting to think maybe it is just me not really being a winner at these stakes
If you were winning before then presumably you are a winning player unless you happen to be quite lucky and won by being a luckbox.
Assuming that you are good, and really are just going thru a bad lucky stretch, then you can keep playing until it affects your play. That is the danger of a downswing, changing your winning style into a losing one.
I know that for me, once I get coolered or sucked out on 8 or 9 times in a row, as has happened many times, I become timid and start thinking like a loser. (There's nothing more deflating than playing perfectly but still losing.) Like every time I am raised, I think I am behind. I get passive and play scared.
If I catch myself feeling this way, I quit until I mentally reset.
You have to understand that in poker, luck is BS in that it favors bad players. Thus, if you are a good player, luck will hurt you. You just to curse luck but keep a clear head and keep on kicking behinds.
Its quite common for people to excuse losing by "being in a downswing", or to classify even a few days with below average results as a "downswing". But the truth is often a bit more complex and sometimes unpleasent that this. Maybe its not actually a "downswing" but just a reversion to mean after a sunshine run.
And maybe we are not actually beating the games, we play. This is an idea, most serious poker players are strongly against, but its important to be humble and at least open for that possibility. It is after all the nature of raked games, that there has to be more losers than winners. If we lose less than the rake, that actually makes us an above average player already.
Or maybe the losses are so small, that it makes no sense to classify them as a "downswing". If not closing each session at or within a few percent from our all-time bankroll high is a "downswing", then by the whole nature of the game we are in a "downswing" at least 80-90% of the time. To get a more realistic and math based idea of, what poker variance looks like, I highly recommend to play a little around with this free calculator:
But other than that, if you truly are in a "downswing", and you are a solid proven winner, then you cant do anything other than to continue playing a well as possible and wait for your luck to eventually turn around. And as others have said, be on the outlook for signs of tilt. Its typically a good idea to play less and study more during "downswings". If nothing else it protects, whats left of your bankroll.
Another solid tip is to move down. Typically you will then face softer competition, and it might be easier to play your A-game, when you care less about the potential for further losses. There is nothing worse than being in that "downswing" and now suddenly a losing session is 20% of your remaining bankroll, because you failed to move down in time. This is a fireproof recipe for eventually going "broke" and having to either stop playing or reload your account.
I think everyone knows that you have the feeling that nothing works at poker anymore. It is important that you see whether you have given your best at poker and if this is not the case, what you can do to improve your game. what you should never try in this situation is that you try to force the losses back because in such a phase you would only lose more and in the end maybe even go on tilt. you have to be able to deal with losing as well as with winning. If you have times when nothing works and this affects your game then I would strongly advise you to take a break, but if you don't let it influence you then it would really be best to play cheaper buy-ins for a while until this bad phase is over so that you don't have too great a loss. Also remember bankroll management is one of the most important things in poker
I take time off from the game when I hit a downswing, and I only return to the game after I've forgotten all those negative feelings. Sometimes I don't play poker for weeks at a time. Of course, its just my hobby and I don't use any poker money to live on, so I can afford to only play poker when I'm in the right mood and frame of mind to do so. Over the years I have learned that its a waste of time and bankroll to play poker when I'm either distracted or not really into it. Poker requires long hours of focus and study and if I'm not prepared to do that, I simply don't play and I find something else to occupy my free time. Poker will always be there when I'm ready for it!
Just want to elaborate a bit more on the point about studying. When I played cash games and experienced large samples, where I was losing, I would take that whole sample and sort the hands in PT4, so that the largest losing hands appeared on top. This could be for instance a sample like 20.000 hands from 10NL Zoom or 25.000 hands from 5NL full ring.
And then I would painstakingly look at each of these big losing hands in the replayer. Some of them might be weeks or even month old, which mean, I was now emotionally detached from the result and able to look at the hand more objectively. And then I would make up my mind, if it was really just bad luck, or if maybe I lost more, than I should. And more often than not I would find at least some hands, that I would have to classify as bad (tilted) calls or bluffs. Hands, where I fought to much for the pot, and it would have been much better to simply fold and cut my losses.
The next step, I took later on, was to purchase PokerSnowie and import some of those big losing hands into the program, to get the programs feedback on, where I made the biggest mistakes from its GTO sort of perspective. That might be a spot, where I faced a turn check-raise, and to my surprice Snowie would not even have bet the turn. Or it could be a big call on the river, where its typically safe to say, that if Snowie wants to fold, then we should certainly not call against an average microstakes opponent.
For tournaments the main tool, I use to review hands, is ICMizer, since push-fold spots tend to be very important in tournaments. You can mark hands, you are unsure about, right after they happen, and then import them for review after the session one by one. Or you can take all the hands from a tournament or even a session, if you have played identical tournaments like say 9-man SnGs, and then let the program analyse all of them and list them with your biggest mistakes at the top.
These are just some examples of, how study can be done. The main point is to actually do it, and be honest with yourself about the fact, that maybe you did not play every single hand perfect. The worst thing, you can do, is to fall into the trap of feeling like a victim, just because you have been unlucky in some spots and/or have lost some money. The statement "I am in a downswing" can easily end up being an excuse for:
1) Not working seriously on your game
2) Continuing to make bad (tilted) plays losing you even more
3) Not following bankroll management and moving down when needed
4) Not questioning if you are playing in the right games
The most important this is to not let the downswing affect you. Look over your play and really review hands your playing and be brutally honest. It could just be variance but it could be a subtle error you are now making as well. If you find nothing look over the last 50 all in situations and your probably see your just getting the wrong side of the win % at this time. Dont just make changes to make changes. Be logical in anything you do and change.
Struggle (in poker this will show up as being overly aggressive)
Run (in poker, this means either getting out of the game for a while, or completely quitting it)
Hiding (in poker, this will manifest itself as a nit game).
I think you have to analyze your hands, I think like certain comments that I read, the analysis of hands is very important to lead you to the conclusion of what to do. If you feel that you have had good hands and that everything has still gone wrong, it is better to take a break, rest for a few weeks, recharge and start over as if nothing had happened. That will give you the encouragement you need to get up again. Regards.
These days whever I feel like I'm on a down swing I have a few things I do depending on the situation/ table. The first thing I do is gage any potential frustration and try to erase any, frustration leads to mistakes. If I'm unable to center myself I than play lower stakes or what I mainly do and stop playing. Over the years I have become less dependent/ addicted to poker, taking breaks or walking away from the table is my go to in most situations.
If it's a minor downturn, I simply ignore it. When I experience a longer downswing, however, I quit playing poker for a few days.
Meanwhile, I'll keep studying and watching poker videos until I'm ready to play again.
I'm not a professional player, but that's how I handel it the majority of the time. :deal:
It’s a situation every player knows…😉….and for me it was a break from poker for about six weeks that helped me to refresh my mindset….after that break I had fun again to play poker and was handling the variance well again