There were two things I thought I'd talk about in this blog. One, the state of online poker and two, dealing with downswings.
I guess I'll start by showing you a graph of my results so far over the course of the year....
Regarding downwings. You can see in the graph I've had a number of large downswings this year and I've also had some losing months. This is going to happen. To find someone who is always winning every month and does not have occasional downturns is going to be very hard as it is quite rare. If you can learn to deal with your downswings well, this is a place you can find a big edge on your opponents. Most people in the high stakes games are playing very well, even the fish for the most part play fairly well, especially if they are getting good cards. Anybody can play well when they are getting good cards. It's the times that people are getting bad cards, getting cold decked, not getting action on their strong hands, etc; these are the times that most people are making big mistakes and costing themselves money. Essentially it's a big game of tilt control. Everybody is going to run bad at some point, the big key to it is dealing with your emotions and your state control and not allowing it to effect you as much as it effects your opponents. I feel this is a big part of where my edge comes from today. Focusing on tilting less and just making the right decision every time the action is on you is going to be the number one thing you can do to ensure you have a successful poker career. Increasing your skill is obviously important and shouldn't be overlooked, this is something you should always be working towards, but tilt control is just as if not even more important.
Things you can do to improve your tilt control:
Play shorter sessions. When you feel things aren't going your way, take a break. Big thing here is get away from your computer. Even if it's only 5 minutes it gives you a chance to reset and relax from all the difficult decisions you are forced to make.
Focus on your breathing when you're getting aggravated or upset. Remind yourself everybody takes these beats and that how you handle it now is going to define you as a player.
Eat healthy foods and exercise before sessions. This wasn't so important for me when I was 21-25, but as I've gotten older it's become more and more important to ensure my brain is working well. Eat a quick meal in between sessions--all the decisions you are forced to make are very taxing and a little bit of protein can go a long way to recharge your brain for the next session.
Strive for balance in your life. If poker is all you think about or focus on, you're going to tilt harder when you lose and it's going to affect your ability to play your A game while at the table.
Constantly question if you are playing well. Think about the decisions you're making, if you think you're tilting it's just about always a better idea to turn the computer off and go do something else. The games are going to be there tomorrow and trying to win back losses when you might be tilted could cause you to make some big mistakes and dig yourself a deeper hole.
Take your time, I know probably 95% of you guys act too quickly. Force yourself to think about the situation before you just click a button. This is the easiest way to avoid playing on auto-pilot.
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Until next time,