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Coping with loss

Coping with loss  

One major problem that every poker player encounters is the ability to cope with financial loss. Ultimately it can lead to the decimation of your bankroll, loss of confidence in your game and downright dejection. Throughout this article I will analyse how this occurs and how you can be better prepared to recognize this trend and deal with the resulting issues.

Take this scenario:
You have just opened an account with $200. With some experience under your belt you feel confident that you will be able to build solidly on this initial deposit. Your target is to move up in stakes slowly but surely.

Two weeks pass and you have successfully quadrupled your deposit. Confidence has quadrupled along with your initial deposit and you begin feeling you can’t put a foot wrong. You get involved in a pot with a player, your chip stacks virtually even. AhAs are dealt to you on the button you duly follow with the perfunctory 3x raise.

The flop comes AdQs4c rainbow (all different suits) and your opponent, much to your surprise starts betting into you. In your mind you begin narrowing down the range of possible hands he could be holding; Ax, QdQc, 4s4d or a bluff. You re-raise and your opponent moves all in. You call, he shows AcJs off suit. At this point you are counting your post hand stack, but the turn brings a Td and the river a horrid Kc, giving him the straight!

Devastated and disgusted with the outcome, but certain that in the long run you will take down these situational pots, you buy back in. Twenty hands later you are dealt KhKd in early position. Once again you push a good healthy raise. Once again the same player who you had previously clashed with re-raises. This time however it’s pre-flop and all-in. You call, he shows QdQs and what does the river bring? Another Queen!

Reeling from the outcome of two key hands you refresh your account to check your balance. In the space of thirty minutes you have lost two buyins not to mention your potential winnings. You decide to take a timeout.

Inevitably you begin pondering over the hands. Could you have played them differently? This is frustrating as the answer is no, which only serves to irritate you further. Determined to gain back your loss you decide to sit back down at the table. This is the key turning point for many poker players, it can lead to a spiral of financial loss wrought from panic and desperation.

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Where did it all go wrong?
Think back to when you made your initial deposit, you had no thoughts of recouping loss and were simply playing from a deposit, with a view to steadily building your bankroll. Now you have returned to the table with a view to win back loss. These are two completely different frames of mind. Suddenly you find yourself calling all in bets with marginal hands pre-flop, running into AA and catching no help on the board. Previously you would have folded hands like JJ to an all-in bet. You are in such a hurry to regain money that you have lost sight of your goals. You are no longer playing to win you are playing to re-coup your losses.

This situation can escalate quickly. Many players will move up in stakes and outside of their set bankroll limits believing they can quickly gain back their losses. Ultimately this leads to tilt, particularly where loss occurs at stakes too high for your skill level. Soon you may find yourself making another deposit having lost your entire bankroll to tilt. This was not part of the plan.

Chasing” is a well known term amongst compulsive gamblers and this is a true example. Many players become addicted to the chase and the highs and lows that accompany it. If you find yourself chasing; Stop! Think very carefully this can lead to severe financial loss.

Avoiding the fiscal abyss
One key aspect in the making of a very good poker player is the ability shrug off bad beats and the financial loss attached. Professional player Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson is a perfect example. He can take any bad beat in his stride and continue playing his game unaffected. The majority of players tend to get very emotional over bad beats, which leads to anger and frustration. Playing poker when you are angry or frustrated is certain death as your ability to exercise control is compromised. Bad beats are a part of poker and the sooner you can accept them and move on without any emotional baggage the sooner you will become a better player for it.

Buy a punching bag if you must! Find some way of relieving the tension and do not return to the tables in an adverse state of mind. Dealing with the financial loss is related but is a separate issue. When you lose, it is imperative that you accept your loss and move on. Do not consider regaining your loss. You are a solid poker player and you know that you can make money at the tables without any great difficulty, providing you are emotionally stable. That is the key to consistently making money. Being in the correct frame of mind and consistently making solid and correct decisions. As Mike Caro says ‘You get paid to make the correct decisions’ if you are emotionally unstable at the table, you will generally not make the correct decisions.

Being a great poker player is not just the ability to calculate pot odds or the ability to read an opponent. You must exercise control emotionally and financially at all times, you must learn to deal with bad-beats and loss. Keep your head and you will keep your bankroll moving in the right direction.

I wish you the best of luck!

Contributed by Alexandre Rotenberg

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