Today I´ve been playing a lot of cash games and I eventually got so frustrated that I had to stop playing. I got into an unthinkable loosing streak that made me crazy. I lost three times with pocket pair of aces for instance. And after a while I was so tilted that I thought ”oh no, not pocket aces again!”
I think it´s both frustrating and fascinating in the same time. It´s fascinating how little it takes to affect the psyche and begin to doubt in things that you generally are very certain about, like how you play AA for instance. I can just imagine how hard it must be for professional players or professional sportsmen when they have a downswing, regardless if it depends on bad luck or their own mistakes.
Thanks to this experience I now understand the importance of mental training. I think everyone can benefit from it, not just the professionals. I also think it´s good to stop playing when you get frustrated because you won´t take good decisions when you are out of balance. Just calm down and gather new self confidence before you continue playing.
Poker shall be fun, and it´s not fun when you start to get irritated and loose your temper. Then it´s better to leave the table and to do something else. Maybe a chat with someone that have been in the same situation can help, then you can discuss and analyze the game and maybe get help to make up new strategies for your game. Such a conversation can also lead to a confirmation that you actually played your hands well and that bad luck is to blame, then you can get back you confidence again.
You can also do something completely else that removes your thoughts about poker like having a nice time with your friends, watch a movie or go for a walk.
If you plan to take part in a tournament or a big game I think you shall prepare with mental training. Martin Jacobson the world champion in WSOP Main Event 2014 prepared throughly before the final table. He trained both physically, mentally and at playing poker. He took the tournament very seriously and prepared like a real sportsmen. His efforts paid off when he won the Main Event and cashed in $10 000 000 in prize money. It was the second largest first prize in the history of WSOP, the biggest win is $12 000 000 and was won by Jamie Gold in 2006.
A good advice and mental preparation is to visualize the tournament in a positive way in your mind before the tournament starts. Imagine how you play your best and how it feels, hopefully you will then start the tournament with positive feelings and self-confidence.
I think I will return to the poker tables tomorrow and hopefully my loosing streak is over by then. But now shall I relax with a good book and think about something else.