Here is how you can bounce back at the poker table



It’s inevitable you’ll have a bad run at the tables or bust out of a tournament on the bubble.

It could be the cards or maybe the villain got lucky. It could be your poor performance or that you need to fix a leak. Try to stay focused and make sure you don’t blame yourself when it’s outside of your control. Also, make sure you don’t blame outside factors when it was your play.

Whatever the reason for your bad round, if you’re going to keep playing, you need to bounce back. In other words, you need to be resilient.

Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress, such as busting out instead of doubling up.

Your confidence might be hurting. You may think everyone knows how badly you played. Nah, usually not. Bouncing back involves two important factors.

In poker, bad stuff happens even to good players and after a poor performance you need mental resiliency, the ability to recover quickly from adversity.

The first step is having a little acceptance. The cards will run against you; villains will get hit in the head with the deck; you will get your money in at a crucial time and lose. These have to be accepted. So long as you made a reasonable decision or you were able to identify and later fix when you didn’t, you can bounce back. But acceptance is the key. No one plays perfect poker; we have to be realistic about what happened. We also need to be resilient.

Develop the capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out; have a positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities; and learn to manage strong feelings and impulses.

Remember poker is not a perfect game; you never have all of the information and for the most part, no one plays perfectly.

Use those bad days as learning experiences. If you never have bad days then you never learn, and if you never learn then you never improve.

Stay focused on the positive: your strengths, talents, and skills.

Don’t turn an unexpected setback into a catastrophe. Remember, there will be setbacks. Take decisive actions to fix any leaks and keep things in perspective. Be optimistic and maintain a positive outlook.

Learn to let yourself experience strong emotions, but realize when you may need to avoid experiencing them at times to continue functioning.
Don’t be too hard on yourself with things like “should” or “could” and keep your head in the game.

— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine