As with most things in life, the way that we deal with failures ultimately determines our overall success. Mental game applies to much more than just your mind state during play. It’s about your overall attitude and macroscopic viewpoint on the game.
Since poker is a game of variance, we can make all the right moves and still lose—in fact, given enough time, this is pretty much a guarantee. Even if you’re an overall winning player, you’re going to have to deal with many losses. Sometimes, you’ll even go on long losing streaks where you can’t seem to win no matter what you do.
This might be one of the hardest things that you have to do as a poker player. Let’s go over some strategies that you can use to deal with losses.
Go Back to Basics
If you’re determined to power through your losing streak and keep playing, one simple step that you can take to center yourself is to go back to basics. Ditch the fancy moves, play some ABC poker, and focus on your fundamentals.
You can try tightening up your range, only playing hands when you’re in position, and spend more time focusing on math rather than picking up tells or making ‘sick reads.’
Another way to take a step back is to play at a lower limit. If you’ve been playing 20/40, stepping down to 10/20 can lift a lot of pressure of your shoulders and let you get back into your groove.
Take a Break
There are other times when you’ll just need to take a break—there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe you need to get up to take a walk for a half an hour during a bad session, or maybe you even need to step away from the game for a week or two to focus on other aspects of your life.
Taking a break helps your mind to refresh itself, enables you to center yourself, and, when you do eventually return to the game, you’ll do so with a new perspective. You can also take this time to study more strategy and think about why you play poker in the first place.
Nobody likes losing. However, if you love poker then you’re going to need to get used to it. That’s why one of the best things that you can do for yourself, both for your win-rate and your sanity, is accept it. Embrace your losses, take them in stride, and work on developing a strategy for managing them that works for you.