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All poker players have bad sessions every now and then, but if you play long enough, you’re bound to encounter an extended downswing.  You might be playing your A-game, but your KK always runs into AA (and never the other way around), your combo draws never hit, and the fish somehow always binks his one-outer.  Extended downswings are one of the most difficult experiences you will encounter in poker, but here’s three tips to help you survive.

Tighten up.  It might not be mathematically optimal to deviate from correct play simply because you’re running bad, but playing a tighter, lower variance style can do wonders for your mindset and self-confidence.  If you’ve been running bad for an extended amount of time and it’s psychologically influencing your play, one of the easiest adjustments to make is simply to tighten up and play a more ABC game until you book some solid wins and regain your confidence.

Move down.  If tightening up isn’t helping, the next step is to move down stakes.  Again, from a pure EV perspective, moving down might not be the most profitable option.  It does, however, allow you to play more stress-free and take some time to reevaluate your game.  It also allows you to make some easy money and pad your bankroll a bit before you return to your normal game.

Stay level-headed.  Regardless of how you cope with downswings, this is the most important thing to keep in mind.  Due to the high variance nature of poker, even the best players can go through weeks or months where they’re playing very well but can’t seem to book a profit.  As long as you’re being honest with yourself about your play, often it is best to simply ignore the results and keep doing what you know is right.  Don’t let the results get to you.  In the long run, things will be corrected eventually.


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ALL IN Magazine Contributor Zhijian Xing