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Upswing in Disguise

Posted by Mithun Mahesh on 2019-11-13 at 6:05 PM
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Downswings. The most depressing thing that can happen to a poker player. Everyone might have experienced it at least once in their career. Today, ignore skill, ignore volume, ignore tilt-jams and let’s just assume you had a legit downswing whenever you had it. I’m having one or at least that’s what I tell myself to hide from the truth.

So a downswing usually begins from a series of cracked aces followed by set over sets and then something called – never in the money. It goes on and on for weeks and months. Then you start posting bad beat stories in random poker groups, this usually is to let your poker friends know why you aren’t winning anymore. Then you start telling it to your non-poker friends, to explain why you haven’t reached The Bilzerian status yet. Then you start suspecting RNGs, suddenly become too religious or might even tie a nimbu-mirchi on the CPU. Doesn’t matter how high your IQ is or how supremely atheist you are, downswings will make you do or think things you wouldn’t have imagined otherwise.

In my case, luckily I was surrounded by right people and right resources, so all I did was grind and wait for the storm to pass. I kept getting coolered, I kept grinding like a professional. More the coolers, more the professionalism. I was fine though, I knew it’ll pass. Months passed, but this phase didn’t, I was running kind off similar in life too. So I started getting agitated over everything, gameplay didn’t deteriorate but my resilience did. Months passed, from Zen mode to calling out river cards against myself, I had it all (except breaking things, that sh*t needs psychiatric evaluation). Months passed, Now coolers were at its max bbph (bad beats per hour), and I reached a point where it didn’t bother me at all, itne zatke kha chuka tha ki it was literally pointless to react. This is the point when you actually realize what’s happening, the revelation, you realize that maybe you are just a fish who is running bad, I did. Then you start envying on fishes who are lesser skilled than you but are shipping MTTs every week. Then again all of the things mentioned above happens in a loop, until you finally accept the fact that YOU ARE THE FISH who is running bad, I did. If your ego doesn’t let you accept this fact, process it this way “everyone is a fish when compared to the PIO”.

Now depending upon how lazy you are, few weeks/months will pass until the next stage arrives. In my case MONTHS passed and I finally started working on my game the correct way, I finally encoded it in my DNA, that it’s only about making mathematically correct decisions using the set of variables available and to keep doing it again and again. Variance doesn’t mean you’ll run good eventually because you had enough bad runs or because you deserve a run-good, it simply means variance will be negligible over a larger sample. And say you were ahead 80% but didn’t get there, you weren’t unlucky, you were supposed to lose 20% of the times and there is nothing you can do to avoid it (unless a new solid research pops up proving consciousness influences quantum field and that we are just in a simulation projected by our own or collective consciousness :p).

All of these things made me wonder, if this downswing was really a bad thing? Had it never happened for this long duration, I would have never realized what was needed to be fixed. Now I sleep peacefully, knowing that I fixed at least one mistake today and knowing (not hoping) that future is bright. Imagine a weaker player being on a heater, all of the sudden they start claiming themselves as pros, they even start their coaching career and eventually when the luck dries out, ego games begin and then it’s all a disaster. Poker is brutal that way, just like life. I see poker as quantifiable model of life with some dimensions absent, like in poker, morality dimension doesn’t exist, since everyone has equal chips to start with and everyone has a choice to not play the game at all, unlike life.

So it’s up to you what you make out of a downswing, a diamond or a clinker. The goal should be to have a solid mathematical foundation, to calibrate your feel or to train your intuition, to actually implement it instead of just talking or blogging about it and not to waste any more mental energy processing fear, hope or any of that crap irrespective of how you are running. And just in case if you didn’t know, that river card didn’t hurt your feelings, your expectations did.

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Mithun Mahesh

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