Friday, October 29, 2010

Fighting Through My Worst Downswing Ever

This probably won't be my most well worded post, I'm mentally exhausted right now but felt like writing which is rare.

This month has probably been my toughest month as a poker player to date. In my last blog update, I wrote about being down 35K and close to 550 big bets. I had recovered to being down 200 big bets and actually was close to even money wise on the month when things really turned again. I dropped about 15K and another 150 big bets in the following couple days. And then it seemed like every day after that, I’d be down about 50-100 big bets, fight back to even, and call it a day.

After about a week of this and couple days where I wasn't able to fight back to even, I was down almost 500 big bets through 45,000 hands on the month. It really started to take its toll on me mentally. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, all I can think about is the fact that I can’t win seemingly no matter what I do. Yesterday I went out to play pool after booking another 100 big bet, 5K losing session and I couldn’t focus or make a ball. I just kept thinking about the money I was down and that I had to win it back. I quit my game, cancelled all future games, and decided to take an extended break from pool. I played several hours of poker when I got home from pool, won back what I had lost earlier in the day and quit about even. This has been the trend nearly every day this week.

I woke up this morning thinking about poker. I had sent a message to a friend the night before about a hand he had a question about. When I sent the response I was exhausted so when I awoke in the morning, my first thoughts were I probably gave the wrong answer. I jumped out of bed, raced down to my computer, reread my response and sure enough, I hadn’t even read the starting hands correctly. What an idiot I am I thought to myself. Is my brain gone, have I lost my mind? Is that what happens after you turn 35? I ran back upstairs and hopped on the elliptical machine, thinking I have to work out. I have to clear my mind somehow, someway.

After working out, I jumped into the games and played for about 3 hours. I was up about 3500 at one point, then lost it all back and decided to take a break. I took my dogs for a long walk that was more about me getting fresh air than it was about the dogs. I came back, played another 3 hours. Down 5K and another 100 big bets. I’m now down over 500 big bets on the month and am wondering if this will ever end. I feel like I’m playing well, I think my mind is working correctly but the results keep telling me otherwise. I decide to relax and watch a football game I have money on. I’ve got Florida State -3 and Over 58. I’m behind 28-24 with 30 seconds left and my team has the ball at the 4 yard line, 2nd and goal. Great, all I need is a touchdown and I win both bets. They call a timeout, draw up a play. The quarter back drops back, has a receiver wide open in the end zone. As he’s about to throw the ball, his own running back hits him and knocks the ball loose. The other team recovers. Game over. That’s fitting I think, time to play some more poker.

I play another 3 hours, drop another 5K and another 100 big bets. I’m now down over 600 big bets, including 200 on the day (one of worst days ever) and am absolutely beside myself. I sit out at all my tables, walk outside, look up at the sky and just think this can’t possibly be happening. I have this delusional thought that there’s some remote possibility somebody has tapped into my wireless internet so I switch to my Verizon card. I close all my 50-100 tables and decide I’m done with that limit until I can start start winning at lower limits. I resolve to play my absolute best no matter what. I play another 600 hands, maybe 2 hours and win back the 10K I’m down on the day and about 160 big bets. Again I’m about even on the day and call it quits.

So that’s where I’m at. In one respect I’ve been very fortunate this month in that I’ve run well at 50-100 all month long. So even though I’m still down a bazillion big bets, it could be much, much worse in terms of money. At this point I just need to focus on playing my best. I know I’m running bad. I think I’m playing well. It should only be a matter of time before things turn around.

As much as I love poker and gambling, man it can be a hard profession to be in when everything goes wrong. I’ve got no choice but to fight through it.


  1. It's ridiculous how quick the human mind suddenly thinks you can't win anymore after you hit a downswing. This link:
    was posted on 2+2 today and a lot of it will ring true for someone playing as many hands as you.

    Give it a read and don't ever have doubts that you will soon be back crushing again.

  2. Unfortunately I can relate to everything you said here. My downswing is at 600 big bets too. I am taking a two or three day break from even thinking about poker (starting after this blog comment) and am going to come back ready to study, review hands, and play the emotionless calculated poker I know I can play when I'm on my A-game.

  3. Thanks for the links and kind words guys.

    Mad- I hope your luck turns around and fast. You're smart for taking a break, I wish I had the discipline to do that.

  4. Fall seven times, stand up eight.

    Japanese proverb

    I know it's not easy but resilience is what you get through.

  5. I'm sure a downswing of this magnitude is commonplace in the tough games that you play. Just goes to show you that even the best are human too. I'm thinking November's graph is going to be a mirror opposite of October.

  6. I hope you're right, thanks for the kind words.

  7. You have been a winning player for over 6 straight years, it is normal to have one losing month in 72. Those are pretty good odds man. Just get rest and exercise and it will come back around. Not to worry, you are just having one bad month. It happens. Remember, 1 out of 72. What is that percentage? -JG

  8. Its all Sylvers fault. He took your Mojo. Now go get it back! HA!

  9. Yep, variance sucks. Shorthanded limit hold'em has a lot of it. Say your "real" winrate in the current games is actually 2BB/100. You would still on average have a 600BB downer once every 1 million hands or so. It happens to all of us and it totally sucks but its part of the game. Press through and don't let it consume your life.

  10. Thanks John and a million hands is about once every year and a half for me.