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Old 11-02-2013, 05:46 PM   #151
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 211
Re: Success, Failure, and the Downswing Mindset

eh cool post. definitely agree with the fact that analysis of one's skills and games is so important during a downswing and feeling sorry for yourself doesn't help anyone, but realistically i doubt its possible for someone to feel good while on a "downswing." If its possible for any of you props, sure as hell wont ever be for me. That being said, i apply the "going thru hell, keep going" ideology
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:22 AM   #152
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 68
Re: Success, Failure, and the Downswing Mindset

Really great post. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. One day I will write one too
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Old 03-18-2015, 02:09 PM   #153
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Location: Jersey Shore
Posts: 657
Re: Success, Failure, and the Downswing Mindset

Originally Posted by Scansion View Post
In my last few and most successful years as a poker player Iíve come to notice that my outlook on the game contrasts that of many others. Iíve struggled over the past few weeks to put into words where my thinking differs and what I believe is the reason for my calm disposition. The tangents I indulge support my explanation, as well as cover my thoughts on success and failure. As I donít have the humility to prevent me from voicing my opinion on this subject, I feel obliged to do so.

Being a perfectionist, it is ironic that I should first start by excusing the imperfection of my post. However, writing is similar to poker in that perfection is impossible, much to my dismay in both cases.
Iíll quote John Steinbeck:

This is something you need to understand for yourself in order to appreciate the mindset I take when approaching the game and the variance that comes with it.

Downswings are especially difficult to recover from because there are multiple forces working against you. Most visibly, youíre stuck and need to win to recover what youíve lost. The simple financial loss is only the beginning, though. Secondly, youíre frustrated and stressed. (Especially when youíre playing for a living where winning is a necessity) Thirdly, youíve lost confidence in your abilities- the second worst part of the nightmare. And lastly, feeling sorry for yourself is the final nail in the coffin. Like using multiple drugs simultaneously, the effects are multiplied and can be catastrophic. In the midst of such a trying time, ďit will all even out in the long runĒ is hardly reassuring.

After reading both Irieguyís "The Difference Between Success and Failure"

and Gigabet's "Almost There With Success and Failure"

Iíve come to the conclusion that both players have a good sense of variance yet have no teachable methods to weather the storm. (Or rather, outlooks to take)

Irieguy touches on some important yet under appreciated subjects. Among reminding us that complaining is bad and musing that emotional stamina varies from person to person, he leaves us this little gem of brilliance.

This could be one of the most important statements ever posted on 2+2, measuring by how much it can help most players. (Iíve only been reading since late í03, but this is certainly up there with the most helpful of what Iíve read). Feeling sorry for yourself is the single worst thing that can happen as a result of a downswing. I see it on the forums every day- it consumes players. Posting downswing graphs for sympathy, comparing who runs worse, all in a desperate attempt to prove your own abilities to yourself because of the doubt your recent misfortunes has instilled in you.

Gigabet responds to Irieguyís statement,

Now hereís where Gigabet and I differ in our opinions of approaching variance. He believes that by eliminating ďwinnersĒ and ďlosersĒ from the equation, we become content with our own set goals and abilities, despite othersí more impressive results. However, everyone is not the same, and everyone has a different potential as a player. On a very basic level, before becoming a winner, one must figure out what is preventing success. Eliminating successful people from the equation is not a good place to start.

The difference between winners and losers is that some people are able to overcome the delusionality that results from downswings, whereas others are not.

Never in my life have I seen such delusionality as I have in poker. The poker world runs on it, because losers are given a taste of what they believe is success, when in fact it is simply the deceiving placebo. (And yes, I know some players play for enjoyment while recognizing they are outmatched, but I think the percentage of players who truly believe they have an edge is generally underestimated). What is unbelievable to me is to what extent such delusionality can reach.

For example:

What kind of close-mindedness does it take to guard your poker prowess with such insistence upon bad luck? As winning poker players, we profit from othersí delusionality and so the less delusional we become, the better off we are. Keeping an open mind to the reason(s) for your downswing is as important as learning how to properly balance your preflop 4-betting range.

Iíve experienced a collective sense of open-mindedness in the heads up forum, where people arenít afraid to concede their opinion as ludicrous, and quickly default to well-intended questioning. I believe this is because of the nature heads up poker. There is no quick-learn formula to grind out a few bb/100 while playing heads up; you need to learn for yourself what works and doesnít, and having an open mind to different strategies is imperative. Occasionally in other forums, posters will fiercely defend their position, contradicting themselves often as they attempt to strengthen their argument, which eventually leads to a huge waste of time and energy. But worst of all, they fuel their delusionality.

Poker is a competition, but nothing near the competitive level that conventional sports are, such as basketball or golf. (At least at this point in time, anyway) Poker players lack the healthy competitive nature created by these atmospheres because of the influence luck has on the game. When losing a tennis match, you generally respect your opponent because of his superior abilities. Very seldom in poker do we credit someoneís poker prowess for beating us, because weíre usually playing against others who are worse; which is the nature of the game. Athletes are able to overcome the difficult times generally due to the fact that there is little luck involved in their sport; their failures are a direct result of their personal shortcomings- igniting their determination to work that much harder in order to achieve success.

Poker players on the other hand experience a different breed of failure that is often very much not their fault. It is difficult to recognize when weíre at the peak of our poker prowess because we are seldom know whether or not to credit our successes to variance. Similarly, when we cannot take responsibility for our failures with any degree of certainty, itís not easy to work harder than before to prove ourselves successful. Doubt in your cause weakens the determination to become successful.

Humans were not designed to bear the type of variance that comes with poker. We donít innately understand how long-run odds work, and our frustration is a result of what we believe should not have happened. We donít think it should happen because of our built-in shortsighted outlook on bad luck. It was never necessary for us as a species to understand this type of bad luck because any one who experienced a string of misfortune would simply not survive.

What you need to do as a poker player to survive the variance is to treat it as a challenge to yourself. Where you canít physically push yourself as in other sports, you need to mentally push yourself to not be bothered by the variance. When you donít care whether variance is being equally fair to you and everyone else, losing in poker is just a competition of how strong you are mentally. When you donít need othersí sympathy and confirmation of your misfortune (rather than your own lack of abilities) your confidence has finally reached its prime. Personally, I enjoy proving that after I hurricane off ten buyins, I can talk to a friend as if I just won the lottery. I take pride in having physical endurance, and I have developed the same ecstasy for my strong mental endurance.

So treat variance as an entity that has the sole purpose of upsetting you to the point where you fall to your knees and cry like a four-year-old, blurry eyes squinting at an EV graph that is in fact the crooked, satisfied smile of variance.
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