The variance in poker is extreme; it’s common for good winning players to go on 30 or 40 buyin downswings. This can amount to a loss of anywhere from $3,000 or more.
On top of the financial loss, players also suffer on the mental side of the equation. After losing so many sessions in a row, it’s tough to still have confidence that you are a winning player and are making the right decisions. You start to question everything you do, which can lead to a poker-esque case of the yips.
1. Create a Separate Poker Bankroll
To deal with the financial suffering from variance, it’s always a good idea to keep your poker bankroll separate from the money you need to live.
When you think of your bankroll as part of your current liquid assets, you add a lot of additional pressure to your play. You’re likely to worry that the money could be used for your family, friends, or to pay bills.
Instead, create a separate poker bankroll with money that you can afford to lose. Create a separate bank account if needed. While losing still sucks, every losing session won’t feel like such a stress-inducing catastrophe.
2. Find a Mentor or Study Group
When you’re losing your mind after yet another losing session, an outside perspective of another good player you trust is priceless.
It’s hard to objectively review your play when you’re close to punching a hole in the wall or to tears. If you have a friend who will be brutally honest, you’ll not only get feedback on if you are making uncharacteristic mistakes, but you will also improve regardless.
You should be able to find a mentor or study group through any online poker forum. If you’re not already a member of any, start at Two plus Two and get to know some players.
3. Take a Break
If you feel that you are getting inside your own head and second guessing yourself, you need to stop playing. There’s no way to play profitably if you can’t play decisively.
Additionally, it usually gets worse the longer you play, so not taking a break could actually hurt you more, both in terms of confidence and your bankroll.
For some, taking a break of an hour is fine to cool down and clear their head. For other, they might need to take a break of a day…a few days…maybe even a week. Take as long as you need until you can open up a table and sit down confidently.
Extreme variance is a part of the game; possibly the most unpleasant. Those that deal with variance proactively will have shorter and smaller downswings, and an overall better results and a more enjoyable playing experience.