Dealing with Bankroll Downswings

Dealing With Downswings

The subject of poker downswings hits close to home for me because I recently experienced one of the worst downswing of my life.  Massive downswings make you question your skills.  They make you wonder, “should I be playing poker at all?”  You start to wonder if the downswing is a fluke or if your good run was a fluke.  You question yourself.  You think about giving up.  It’s not a pretty sight.

The only way to combat a downswing and reestablish your confidence is to realize that downswings are natural part of poker.  Here are some things you can do to work yourself out of a massive downswing.

Realize It’s A Statistical Anomaly

Even coin flips go on runs.  Sure over the long haul 50% of your flips will be heads and 50% will be tails, but that’s not what it looks like in shorter timeframes.  When you look at small streaks of coin flips, you’ll see long runs of heads and long runs of tails.  Poker is the same way.

Analyze More Often

Bad runs can make you play poorly.  When you’re playing bad, you have a tendency to alter your strategy even if it’s the right one. Usually this tactic causes some leaks to spring up in your game.  Eventually your bad run will cause you to adopt bad playing habits which, of course, make your downswing worse.  By analyzing your game frequently, you can spot these leaks early and prevent them from happening.

Study More Often

Downswings aren’t always a statistical anomaly.  Sometimes you really are playing bad.  You may have forgotten some basic techniques or you may have fallen into a passive playing pattern.  Sometimes the problem is you.

Fortunately, this situation is easy to fix.  Take some time and re-read your favorite poker books to see if you’ve strayed from their teachings.  Then record your playing sessions so you can analyze them later.  You’ll be amazed at what you find when you take yourself out of the emotional situation of the game.

Taking time to study your game will tell you whether you’re caught in a statistical downswing, or downswing that you deserve.

Play Less Often

Reduce your playing time for awhile.  Going through a massive downswing can mess with your mind.  The little things that you used to brush off start getting on your nerves.  You start to go on tilt easier and more often.

Get away from the game.  You can use the time to analyze your play or study your poker books.  If that doesn’t help, maybe you just need to get away from poker for awhile.  Whatever it takes, do it.  Your bankroll will thank you for it when you come back.


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Downswings aren’t easy to deal with, but they happen to everybody.  Just accept that downswings are a part of poker.  Don’t beat yourself up and don’t lose hope.  Take the time to analyze and study the game.  When you feel your confidence coming back, you can return to the tables.



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