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How to Handle Downswings in Poker Like a Pro?

If there’s anything inevitable in poker, it’s the poker downswings. If you have played poker, you may have gone through a downswing at least once, if not multiple times. Agreed, downswings are one of the most challenging parts of the poker game, and they can be really demotivating. Losing your stake in one poker session is still something you can deal with, but going through poker downswings for a longer period can put your mental game to the test. 

Downswings aren’t limited to amateur poker players, beginners, and poker fishes; even the best and most experienced poker players may face a downswing. But, what separates the winners from losers is how one handles downswings in poker. This blog covers essential tips to handle downswings like a poker pro. Before looking at the tips, you must understand what poker downswings are.

Also Read: How to Identify the Fishes on your Poker Table

What is a poker downswing and how long can a downswing last?

A poker downswing is a phase or a period of time that may last from a week to a few months where a poker player suffers extended losses. Downswings can happen with any player regardless of whether you are a beginner or an experienced poker player.

While downswings can last from a week to several months in poker games, they can last longer than in poker tournaments. Downswings often lead to tilt in poker that can have adverse impacts at a poker table.

Downswings can last differently based on the type of player. For instance, a losing player will always lose money in the long run, while a winning player can calculate the severity of downswings from their win rate. The poker players measure their edge through the win rate, which is calculated as big blinds won per 100 hands. The bigger the win rate, the lower will be the impact of the variance.

Difference between online downswings and live downswings in poker

The downswings in live poker games and online poker games can differ. For that reason, it is easier to track your win rate in online games and a little trickier to calculate the same for live games. The differences in the downswings between both are as follows:

  • In live games, the players may not be quite experienced. Therefore, if you are playing poker with amateurs and beginners in a live game, your win rate will be higher because the overall variance is lower.
  • In online poker games, you can play a higher number of hands; therefore, getting to the long run is quicker.

Tips for handling poker downswings 

Drop Down in Stakes

One of the most effective ways to minimise the downswings is to drop down in stakes as downswings can hit your bankroll hard. It is critical that you play poker at certain limits based on your games. When going through a downswing, you must check your current limits. If you have been playing high stakes and have not been successful, it is time you start considering playing lower stakes. 

When the stress level is lower in low-stake games, you can focus better on defeating your opponents as the competition in low-stake games is relatively softer. Moreover, a few wins can increase your confidence and get you back in the game when you’re running low. Dropping down in stakes can get you out of the vicious circle of downswings, and you can jump back into your regular games when you feel ready.

Review Hands

Another critical factor that can help you during a downswing is reviewing hands with other people in the poker network. Your analysis of your hands may not always be correct. Therefore, you may not be sure if the losses are due to some mistakes you may be making or are they simply because of bad luck. In such circumstances, it’s best to consult with other players in your poker network and get their opinions to analyse your hands and find out whether or not you have been making any mistakes.

Evaluate Your Game

Indeed, downswings in poker are inevitable, but if they drag on for long, you must evaluate your game. At times, players are overconfident about their skills more than they should be. However, a downswing is a time when every player should take a look at their game and evaluate if they are making any mistakes. When you realise you are gradually getting into the trap of downswings, take a step back and evaluate your game by going through your hand history.

Also Read: How to Play ‘Heads up’ Poker: Matchups & Probabilities

Maintain Your Focus

An essential factor for winning poker games is maintaining your focus throughout the game. If you are focused, it will be easier to determine whether your current state in the game is just variance or is it leading to a downswing. You will be able to rectify your decisions and flaws based on your evaluation and analysis before the impact gets deeper.

Seek out a Coach

Poker is perhaps the most popular card game, and formal poker coaching is an industry trend. Players learn strategies, tips, tricks, and valuable lessons on the internet, listening to poker experts, and even on a live table. If you are struggling with poker downswings, you can seek out a coach who may either be a friend with expertise in poker or even someone on the internet. Indulge in discussions on poker hands and strategies with poker players to get different perspectives of the game. 

Take Some Time off the Game

The last tip but an important one is to take a break from the game to deal with the downswings and the negativity that comes along. Downswings have a negative impact not only on your bankroll but also on your mental state. Frustration gets the best of you and your game when you are amidst a downswing phase. At a time like this, it’s wise to take some time off the game. You can still study and gain knowledge on poker, but taking a break from playing the game is important to avoid tilting. Taking a break from playing poker will clear your head and help you get back to a winning mindset before you start playing again.

How to Handle a Downswing in a Poker Tournament?

The downswings in poker tournaments can be different from live or online poker games. Even the most successful poker pros with a good track record face prolonged downswings. These downswings can have a profound impact on the mental game and bankroll of the player.

Therefore, if you are heavily invested in playing poker tournaments over online poker games, here are a few points to consider to handle downswings in poker tournaments.

  • Always maintain a healthy bankroll to avoid heavy blows.
  • Whenever necessary, you should consider moving down in stakes.
  • Absolutely avoid playing when tilted, as they can be destructive in the long run.
  • Sell action when your game demands it.
  • Monitor your expectations according to the game.

Also Read: What are MTTs and How to Crush Your Opponents in Poker Tournaments?

Turn poker downswings into an opportunity

Believe it or not, you can actually turn poker downswings and tilt into an opportunity to defeat your opponents. Handling downswings in a positive way is a trait of a winning player. Use these frustrating times to learn something new about poker and turn them into something rewarding. Use the above tips to handle poker downswings in a better way the next time you play an online poker game or join a poker tournament.

And here’s one of the best opportunities to transform your downswings into an upswing with GIGL Poker. MPL is launching the Great Indian Gaming League (GIGL) on the 24th of March. It is the largest multi-sport gaming tournament with over Rs 2000 Crore in winnings. You can play poker games (or any other games such as fantasy cricket, rummy, and other casual games) and stand a chance to win big. All you need is the MPL Pro App and a stable internet connection to join a preferred contest from the Top Pick Events for the day.

Vijaya Bharti
Vijaya Bharti is an experienced gaming writer fuelled by a passion for virtual worlds and interactive storytelling. Her profound understanding of game design and culture shines through her compelling content pieces captivating readers. She finds leisure in playing online games, writing about anything related to games, and watching web series.


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