Five Tips for Powering Through Rough Patches on the Felt

Ready to take a break from poker or give it up altogether? Had it up to here with bad beats, getting counterfeited, and suck outs on the river? Have you been card dead since Pluto was a planet? Do you feel like no matter how dominating your hand is when you get your chips in, that somehow you are going to come out behind? Don’t despair! Even the best players experience slumps. Remember, tough luck doesn’t last, but tough players do.

Dealing with adversity is a part of poker. How you respond to tough challenges is one measure of who you are as a player. Learning to deal constructively with obstacles that confront you on the poker table will strengthen your game skills and confidence. If you are on an extended cooler and poker is starting to get you down, here are 5 tips you can use to help you power through hard times:

  1. Take a look in the mirror; it might be bad play not bad luck that has you in a slump. There is always room for improving you game. Most good players reevaluate their play continuously to determine whether they have holes in their game. You may have changed your style of play slightly without realizing it or you may have started using certain game strategies more often than you used to. Whether you win or lose, if you want to improve, you should critically evaluate your play after every session at the poker table.
  2. Accept luck, good or bad, it’s part of the game. Poker is a game of strategy and decision making, but luck will always play a huge part in winning or losing. Energy spent cursing bad luck is wasted energy. What happened last hand, last game, or last week has no bearing on future results. You can’t change your luck, but you can change the way you think about it. Because of the role luck plays in poker, unless you have the nuts, you can’t control over the outcome of any one specific hand. However, you do have total control of the way you react when things don’t go your way. It may take practice to learn how to accept bad beats with grace and not let setbacks affect your game negatively.
  3. Stay positive and be optimistic. Scientific studies have proven that people who imagine a positive future are more likely to experience positive results. By inducing optimism you prepare your brain for a positive outcomes. A pessimistic attitude can make you gun-shy about getting into pots where you have good odds because you have the “feeling” you are always coming out behind. Additionally, if you are resigned to defeat you may be tempted to get too many chips in the pot the first time you see a decent hand. Keeping a positive attitude promotes positive play.
  4. Stay focused and determined. Prolonged losing streaks can cause players to get distracted and bored, and players who are distracted and bored make poor decisions. Working toward specific goals and having a plan to reach your goals can help you stay focused and disciplined. Stay committed and don’t allow distractions to interfere with achieving your objectives. Reaching milestones along the way to accomplishing your goals will boost your confidence and staying determined to attain your goals will keep you focused on the moment.
  5. Be patient. Impatient people often make snap decisions before thinking through all of their options. Making a conscious effort to be patient and showing restraint in frustrating situations takes practice. It can take a major change in your mindset to learn patience but over time it becomes habit. Bear in mind that good things will not always happen on your schedule. There are times during a poker game when fortune will favor the bold, but having the patience to wait for those times is one key to winning poker.

Struggling through tough times at the poker table can be frustrating, but it is not an indication of failure. Playing poker should be fun and profitable but grinding through a rough patch can seem like running a marathon in deep sand. However, tough times always come to an end. Believe in yourself. Don’t let dry spells at the table discourage you.

Use these tips to help you power through tough times. If your game is solid your luck will always equal out… eventually.

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