There are times in poker when everything seems to be going wrong. This can have a devastating effect on you and your game. Everyone says everyone has these times; few expect it to happen to them.
This can be catastrophic or just a minor setback. There are so many variables. You could lose all of your money. This is assuming you have a poker stake and don’t just use everyday money to play poker and that you replenish as necessary.
You may have been playing your A game and everything still went wrong. You were card dead, you tightened up, but to the point where when you played a hand everyone folded. Or you finally get a good hand and play it and someone sucks out on the river. This happens for enough sessions to break you financially and/or emotionally.
If it breaks you financially, then the answer is to rebuild your poker stash and start again. Maybe play smaller and build your roll. If you just replenish your stake, then you have no problem. If you have a poker stash, then you must find a way to rebuild. This second scenario may take some time. Use time wisely. Look at yourself with a critical eye. Talk to your poker buds about your game. Read, watch and listen.
Mike Caro advises in this situation, assuming you have some money: Take a small win and go home. Play in a smaller game. Look for reasons why you’re losing.
If you find reasons, adjust your game. But if you don’t find any, stick to your gameplan and keep faith. You’ve heard this advice often when teams are losing: Go back the fundamentals.
The biggest question you have to answer is, “Were you playing your A game?” You need to engage in self-examination. Not only of your poker playing but of you.
If it busts you emotionally, however, the first thing to do is look at yourself. Careful self-examination is the key: your game, your thoughts, your emotions. Maybe some outside help.
As always, it’s most important to keep your head in the game.
— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.