Poker downswings are a natural occurrence as you go through your poker journey. If you’re in one, read these helpful tips to get you out of the rut.

Poker Downswing: How to Climb Out of the Hole

Downswings in poker are one of the most brutal aspects of the game. For the uninitiated, a poker downswing is a period where you suffer loss after loss. It can last for days, weeks, or even months.

And when players get hit with an extended poker downswing, it can be challenging to deal with the negative emotions that arise. That’s especially true for beginners who aren’t familiar with poker hand ranking and other crucial elements of the game.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to deal with poker downswings and climb yourself out of that hole. Let’s begin.

How to Deal With Poker Downswings

1. View downswings as growth opportunities

As has been said multiple times, poker is a mind sport. Therefore, you’ll need solid mental fortitude to make poker a career choice.

Try reframing the situation in your head whenever you’re on a losing streak. View it as an opportunity to grow as a poker player. Accept your losses and embrace them as part of the game.

Then, reenter the session with a fresh mindset. Don’t let your previous losses negatively impact your game. It can be difficult, yes. But overcoming that emotional slump is what separates a pro from a fish. 

Here’s poker legend Fedor Holz talking about how he overcame one of the worst downswings in his career.

2. Do not become a nitty player

When experiencing a poker downswing, do not let yourself take fewer risks. Inexperienced players often do this to decrease their chance of losing another huge pile of chips.

As a result, they passed up on profitable hands where they could’ve squeezed more from their opponents. Worse still, they fold their hand when someone aggressively raises them on the turn or river.

So whenever you’re in a slump, remember to stay on your game plan and execute the basics. Eventually, your downswing will dissolve, and you’ll slowly climb out of the hole.

3. Switch to lower stakes

It’s natural to feel apprehensive whenever you’re on a poker downswing. To remedy this, try to move down a level so the fear of losing isn’t as daunting as it is up the higher stakes.

Are you playing a 50 no-limit session? Then, downgrade to 10NL while still maintaining your usual play. Doing so will help you overcome your fear and encourage you to take risks grounded on poker fundamentals.

Of course, moving down the stake isn’t a guarantee your poker downswing will end. In fact, you might even lose more money.

But worry not. The education you’ll get from these sessions will be worth it in the long run. The idea here is to maintain your level of play while dealing with the negative emotions brought by downswings in poker.

4. Analyze your play

A poker downswing is a perfect opportunity to review your play. Analyze both your winning and losing hands.

Doing so will help amplify the former and reduce the latter’s occurrence. Ask questions like:

  • What mistakes did I make on that hand?
  • Was there a different way I could’ve played that hand?
  • What poker leaks have I been exhibiting during my session?
  • Have I been subtly tilting and unaware of the fact?
  • Have I been mindful of my fundamentals during my session?

Analyzing your play during a poker downswing will help you spot areas where you can improve as a player. Then, once you’ve identified your lapses, enter a new session with your fresh perspective. 

Often, you’ll see the lessons you’ve learned from your losses. It will guide you to avoid the same traps in the future.

5. Find a coach

There are a lot of incredible poker coaches out there today. Conduct your research and find one to learn tips and strategies you can incorporate into your game.

If you can’t afford a coach, join online discussions. Try to share your experience with a particular hand that struck you. Get the perspective of others to view the experience from another set of eyes.

Poker Downswings Are Normal; Don’t Let It Dictate Your Future Games

Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Fedor Holz — all of these poker legends have experienced poker downswings at some point in their careers. In fact, they’re experiencing these protracted losses even now.

The difference is that these pros use their downswings as growth opportunities. And you can too. 

Read, practice, and improve your poker game for your next session. Over time, you’ll look back and see how your poker downswings are part of the foundation that made you the player you are today.