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Thursday, June 14, 2007 

The Downswing

Here is a really funny article by '1.21 gigawatts' from pocketfives about the poker player's arch-enemy, the dreaded downswing. The past weeks has been a testament to how harsh this game can get, since ive lost all my profit for the first two weeks and then some. On the slow road to recovery though. Trust the math, i say. ;)


The Downswing
by 1.21Gigawatts on 3/29/2006 06:31

On a dark and gloomy day in May of 1572, it rained in the Atacama Desert.

Then, 400 years later, it finally rained again.

Talk about a dry spell.

And if you've played poker long enough, you've probably experienced the same thing. Maybe not 400 years, but it can sure feel that way. It's when nothing is going your way, your opponents keep getting the best of you, and the cards are running as poorly as Stephen Hawking in a footrace

(I'm going to hell for that one.)

Everyone's been there before, and everyone has their own story to tell. Still, that doesn't make it any easier when it's been two weeks since your last winning session.

The downswings in poker can be brutal. So brutal in fact, that you begin to question your own skill level - not to mention your own sanity. You start asking whether or not you're even good enough to play this game. And sometimes when it gets really bad, you start wondering why you ever loved this game in the first place.

But hey, that's poker, right? A game where the law of averages works in its most volatile state. Where you're either on the heater of a lifetime, or stuck in a three-week drought of misery. It's never easy, even when you think you know everything there is to know about the game. Because you always have to deal with that one thing:

Variance. And there's no stopping it.

Still, the variance pill becomes harder and harder to swallow with each losing session.

"Forget it," I said to myself earlier tonight. "I just flat out suck."

I have lost all confidence. I am Jack's crumbling self-esteem.

It's the low point in a poker career; the worst run of your life. When you're completely card dead and all you have left to rely on is a crappy continuation bet on a ragged flop.

It's when you pick up pocket Jacks and say to yourself,

"Please let there only be one overcard on the flop, because I'm sick of seeing all three."

It's when everytime you raise with A,Q or 9,10 you get repopped by the guy in the small blind who hasn't played a hand in hours. And then when you do pick up Aces, you win nothing but the blinds.

And don't even get me started on pocket kings. I'm so fed up at this point, the only cowboys I want to go near are the two guys from "Brokeback Mountain."

But it's not like you're always missing the flop. It's just that when you do connect, you're running into monsters anyway. But that doesn't matter, because top pair, weak kicker never looked so good. I guess that's where the bad play sets in. After 89 missed flops in a row, a simple flush draw begins to look like a thing of beauty.

"You mean I'm not a 6-to-1 dog right now!? Hell, I'm all-in then."

That's when it becomes the last act of a desperate man. Sure, I'm probably drawing dead, but how many times in life can we say we got all our money in with a 15% to win? It's a proud moment (during a downswing) as far as I'm concerned.

It's when the only pots you're not losing, are the ones you get to split 3-ways.

It's when you've completely given up on small pocket pairs, because they stopped hitting months ago. It's when you sit and play for three hours and 380 hands, and the only full house you see is another lousy rerun on Nick at Nite.

It's when you finally do flop top two pair, your opponent loses connection and sits out, and you get to check it down with him while he's away (thanks to disconnect-protection).

Lucky you though, because he rivered a set anyway.

But hey, that's poker. And that's variance. Get used to it. And make sure you're never playing above your bankroll. Otherwise, a two week drought could temporarily put an end to your poker career.

Just know that the swings happen to everyone, even the best players in the world. And that eventually, it will all turn around. The good cards will come. And it will rain again.

And like they always say: When it rains, it pours.

pocketfives... :/ yeah soon enough it will turn around and you'll run hot!
gl at the tables man!

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  • The best poker I've ever played has always entailed peace. A relaxed comfort. Eyes open, ears open, radar up. Absorbing my opponent's every message. Taking them as they come. Not mixing what those messages are with what I want them to be. It's like an aerial view. A view from above the myriad luck-dependent reactions of those many people who never gain such a peace. And when you gain that view, that peace - when you'd rather have the truth, no matter how disappointing, over a false hope, no matter how desirable - then you're a player. The hand you're on slips into a stream of thousands of other hands, no one of which, because of your lofty view, seems unduly important, no false fearful emotions rise within you. When you gain the peace of lofty perspective, you're a player, and when you're a player, you're free.- from "King of a Small World" by Rick Benett
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