Top 10 Tips to Surviving Downswings at the Poker Table: Part 2

By Robbie Strazynski
August 04, 2011

As I mentioned in part 1 of my surviving poker downswings series, I’m currently in the midst of one of the longest and largest slides of my “poker playing career”. My bankroll and confidence as a poker player have taken huge hits, and, as someone who simply loves to play the game, let’s just say it just hasn’t been an easy ride. While my character has certainly been tested on multiple occasions, this long downswing has also provided me with a ton of useful experience. I’d like to continue sharing these experiences with my poker blog readers in the form of tips for “how to survive” when the cards just seem to always be stacked against you.

Tilting at the Poker TableHere are some more ways and ideas to help you avoid tilting and effectively keep your mental edge while on a downswing at the poker table:

 6. Think Positive

Anyone familiar with Mike Matusow‘s transformation over the last few years to a “kinder and gentler ‘Mouth'” knows that he owes his latest poker successes to the power of positive thinking. There’s a lot of popular belief that people can “create their own luck”. Regardless of how badly you may be running at the poker table, channel your inner Peter Pan and think happy thoughts. At the very least, this will ensure that you don’t alienate friends and family while trending downwards at the felt.

 7. Keep Negatives to Yourself While at the Poker Table

This tip goes hand-in-hand with thinking positive. If your speech, behavior, and mannerisms at the poker table radiate weakness, hopelessness, and frustration, be advised that your opponents will pick up on this and capitalize by relentlessly attacking. You might as well just give away your stack of chips.


8. Write Down Your ThoughtsPoker Notes Icon

While on a downswing, there are literally millions of thoughts that pass through your mind. Your range of emotions goes from tears to fears and then back again. Keeping it all bottled up inside is like shaking a bottle of Coke – eventually you’ll just explode. To avoid this, I recommend sitting and writing out your thoughts as calmly as possible. This outlet is far more effective, as you’re likely to cool off more quickly and permanently. Rereading your notes later on might even help you notice a flaw in your poker game or thought process. Specifically, I’d recommend you try the Poker Notes Live mobile app. My outlet for the current downswing is this poker blog.

9. Don’t Blow Things Out of Proportion

Remember that when all’s said and done, poker is just a game. Even if you’re a professional poker grinder and have the added pressure of bills to pay with a dwindling bankroll, there’s plenty to be thankful for about being able to play a game to try and make a living. And if you’re just a recreational player like me, be thankful that you have enough money on the side to blow a bit playing poker when plenty other people in the world are struggling to make ends meet.

10. Keep the Faith

While many players attribute all good or bad luck at the tables to the “poker gods”, I personally find far more comfort in actual religion. Whether you’re a believer or not, there’s something comforting about knowing in your heart that some Divine force has you destined to be on a losing streak. Just don’t forget to also keep the faith and be thankful to that same Divine force when the tide finally turns and you start winning again.

Everything is Going to be OK!

A common theme to all 10 of my downswing survival tips is being proactive. While a bad run of cards or luck may eventually go away on its own, more often than not a downswing will continue to wreak havoc on your moods and psyche unless you actively do things to counter it.

While having done everything on the list multiple times during my latest downswing still unfortunately hasn’t helped pad my bankroll any, I can honestly say that after having shared my thoughts with all of you via these poker blog posts, I sure do feel a hell of a lot better. I can only hope you do too. Let the upswing begin!



Sign up
Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


One comment

Poker can be incredibly tough to deal with with all the bad beats. There’s been a number of times where I wanted to give it up. It can be so frustrating.

Anyway, these tips will be helpful in the future after the next bad beat. I’d love to tell a bad beat story, but you’ve heard ’em all, I’m sure. Thanks.

Join The Discussion

Latest Post


Pokercoaching All Access

The Travel Shark

WPTGlobal Welcome Offer

Don’t miss our top stories, exclusive offers and giveaways!