Poker is something that you will lose at…occasionally. Even the great poker players, like Scotty Nguyen lose from time to time. Doyle Brunson has lost. Hellmuth has lost. It’s a thing. You’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter how good you are, because poker is also a game of luck. Sometimes the luck is with you, and you’re on fire. But there are times where the luck with someone else. You can either get mad, and ruin your poker playing or get strategic, and work your way out of the funk.
I like to call it the funk because everything just feels rotten. You don’t feel good, you feel like giving up on the game, and you feel like you’re not as sharp as you should be. Well, the truth is that you really aren’t as sharp as you should be. You’re angry. You’re upset. You’re hurting. You wish that you could rewind that. You start thinking about all of the crappy plays that you made. You get upset. You want to fix things but you know that it’s not going to change anything. You worry. You panic. You try to move on but you’re sucked back down with all of your mistakes.
Now, some people think I’m trying to be funny, but I grew into poker thinking this way. I worried how I would look if I had a bad streak. Then I had a bad streak. I realized that I wasn’t as bad as I thought. It wasn’t the end of the world, for one. For two, there were plenty of chances to bounce back. There were weaker players that basically jumped into my table looking for a fight. The poker community isn’t as large and spaced out as you might think. So when someone’s having a bad time, some sharks like to come sniffing around. I was ready for that, and I pulled off some really good wins.
But what you want to know is …what do you do when you lose? That’s the million dollar question. The answer is simple: you move on. You don’t dwell on it. Yes, you want to go over the game and see what you can learn. But beating yourself up is entirely the wrong response. You don’t want to beat yourself up. You don’t want to have other people beat you up. You don’t want to feel like the moron just because you made a different decision. If anything, you want to be able to make the right decisions for the right reasons. There are mistakes made in poker that are truly tough to recover from. Will you recover from them anyway? Of course. Folding a monster hand because you got sucked into a bluff is one of them. But you know what? There’s always going to be poker hands. There’s always going to be chances to win. They’re always going to be another game, another tournament, another opponent that’s happy to try to take you down.
At the end of the day, it’s how you carry yourself. I’ve got good news: you will be amazed at what you can do when you realize that the worst really isn’t as bad as you think it is. The even better news is that as you go through mistakes in poker, you’ll seal them up faster and faster with time. You’ll be that star player that everyone looks up to. But it all starts with learning how to control your own mind. That’s really the long and short of it, so good luck!