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Downswings & Mindset

Posted by Laksh Pal Singh on 2019-05-22 at 1:04 PM

Hey guys, I’m back with another blog and today I’m gonna talk about mindset.
A good mindset is key in poker and as professionals, we often find ourselves in situations of negative mindsets. I personally have been going through this phase and I’m happy to be able to talk to you guys about it.

So what are the factors that lead to a negative mindset?

1. Downswings – downswings are standard in poker, especially in MTTs. The variance is such in MTTs that downswings are inevitable. Yet the best of us crumble during downswings. Why? Because of our negative mindsets.

2. External factors – these are external emotions that club in with your downswing and poker mindset and bring in even more negativity. Point to note is that during our upswings, these factors don’t have any relevance to us, we forget about their existence, but when poker ain’t going well, it feels like life isn’t going well and all these external factors seem to bother us more than they would normally. These factors could be anything, something from your past – family, girlfriend, anything.

Consequences of a negative mindset –

1. You play like crap. You spazz. You make mistakes, more mistakes and more mistakes. You take over ambitious lines, you aren’t focussed like you were, you justify your bad decisions because you are not in the optimal headspace to understand that what you’re doing is wrong.

2. You lose hope. The more negativity inside you, the more negative you’ll feel going into a hand, going into a flip. There are times when you just know you’re going to lose the hand even when you’re ahead and that negative feeling often turns into reality. (I sound like an amateur but this does happen even to the best of us).

3. You get attached to results because you’re trying to get out of your downswing. You’re not playing with the same mental stability and emotionless fear. You tilt after losing, after bricking, which you wouldn’t do normally when things are going fine. You think about the hypothetical situation – if my aces had held in that spot I would’ve won the tournament and my downswing would’ve been over.

These are just common symptoms of a poker players mindset. I would still say I’m relatively new to the sport as compared to most of the guys in the industry so obviously I’m not perfect and I do experience all these emotions. But realisation is the most important thing here. I realise where I’m going wrong. And I have decided to implement a few things-

1. Exercise – your mental and physical health are correlated. You gotta exercise to release those endorphins and remove the negativity from your mind or else your mind can become your worst enemy. It can flip you out. A clear mind is required to play optimal poker. You can do anything – gym, yoga, meditation, sports. The biggest issue I’m facing with exercising is being lazy. After grinding 10 hours a day I sleep by about 6 am and wake up by 4 pm and again laze around before grind and end up not exercising. I will have to change that if I want to stay sharp at the poker tables.

2. Eat healthy – this is the worst thing for poker players. Our lifestyle is so unhealthy. I’m jealous of the guys who balance their lives and can remain healthy even while playing poker. The amount of junk, outside food we eat, odd hours of eating, overeating, under eating, it’s all destroying our body and mind. I have decided to make it a point to eat healthy by including more fruits vegetables and home food in my diet.

3. Be emotionless – this is the most important and the hardest thing I find to do as a poker player. You gotta train your mind to not react. You gotta be cold, solid as a rock in every situation. You cannot lose control of your mind/emotions, cause that’s the end of your success right there. Understanding your emotions is also important. You gotta know on the day when your emotions are all over the place. Take a break that day. Do not grind, because trust me you’re gonna play the worst poker of your life. I was listening to a podcast by Isaac Haxton where he said that being emotionless in poker was very easy for him because he was just as emotionless as a person in life. Now obviously not everyone is the same but we can learn from these people. Learn to curb our emotions. Motivate ourselves, read a bencb quote every day (that helps me). Results should not affect us. Bad beats should be like water. Bricking is standard, shipping is standard. It is what it is. We fail everyday to succeed. The day is over, the result is gone, wake up the next day and show up and grind again. Fail again. Repeat.

4. Taking a break – to be a successful poker player you gotta grind hard, you gotta be a machine. But sometimes we go too long before taking a break. You don’t even realise you’re burnt out, you’re not playing optimally. Then comes the times where you wanna take a break but another series comes in and then another and then another. And then you just can’t find time for yourself or that break. What I have learnt from this is that a new series will keep coming. You miss two days, no biggie – because those two days will enable you to crush when you come back, rather than play badly those two days. There are two types of breaks- one is a short term break from poker altogether, this is just a day or two off and do something you enjoy. Second is a longer break but a poker break. When you’re not confident, when you’re negative, take a week or two off and study. Work on your game – spend time off the tables. Regain your confidence, and then come back and crush. That’s my plan post INSCOOP. Can’t just keep playing or you’ll just do the same things over and over again without improving.

That’s all I got for today and I’m happy I could share my mindset with you guys. Poker is a long term game, don’t chase short term results. Work on being a better person every day. Don’t chase glory, you are destined for it.

Cheers and GL at the tables!

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Sourabh Singh
2 years ago

this blog really helps me

Laksh Pal Singh

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