Why You Are Not Winning At Poker
This post may come off as a bit harsh and different than many of the other blog posts that I write. Ultimately, I like to help people and I like to provide value to the readers of this blog. With that said, I feel that sometimes I might be a bit too nice and not address a point directly enough.
I have been backing players full time for the last 4 years and I have seen what qualities make some players successful. This article is meant to be brutally honest- I work with many players and see what they struggle with and these 3 reasons are the primary reason why many players struggle and are in prolonged downswings.
You Are Lazy
This reason encompasses 80% of players who are not winning or in prolonged downswings. Laziness can mean that you are not playing enough or you are not studying enough or both. I see many poker players who are “full time” players who put in less than 4 hours a day for both playing and studying. I’m not sure working 20 hours a week can be considered full time.
Turn off the youtube, stop watching T.V. 5 hours a day, and put in hours studying poker and playing. Treat your poker like a business and put in the time and work that is necessary for any business to thrive and succeed. Unless you play MTTs for a living, getting a lucky bink is not going to happen in cash games.
Playing full time poker is a hard way to make an easy living. Sitting on your computer and playing a game is not a hard task in itself; it is putting in the work that is required in order to succeed.
Solution: Make goals for yourself and legit punishments if you do not fulfill your goals. One thing I did while I played full time was I set volume goals for myself. If I did not fulfill them, I would have to donate x amount of money or my time to charity- that way, I felt much more incentivized to do it. Goals without punishments or accountability will generally fail, so be sure to stick with your goals (whatever they may be) in order to keep yourself in line. You also need to question yourself at the core: Why are you playing poker? Do you still enjoy the game? What is driving your motivation for playing? Having a regimented schedule is another good way to keep yourself focused and on pace.
You Are Mentally Weak
Do you go through sessions where losing 3 buy ins tilts you and you do not play the rest of the day? Do you have low confidence in general and your game, volume, and study goes down when you are losing? You are mentally weak and need to work on your loss tolerance.
The best players that we have worked with have iron mental games- they can play long sessions and heavy volume and do not get destroyed when going through downswings. They deal with downswings well and they also continue to play many hands even when they are winning (many players will just book the win and not play while winning).
Tilt management and control are also large parts of the mental game that players need to focus on. Being able to lose buy ins over a prolonged time period while playing well is a skill that players need to learn in order to succeed. When you go through downswings, do not merely blame luck alone. You should focus on the things you can control and the areas where you are weak in. You should be working harder, not less, while experiencing downswings.
The mental game is a very underrated aspect of poker and many players solely focus on the technical aspect of it. Being able to play many hours with your A or B game, not being affected by downswings, and not tilting are all very important parts of being a poker professional.
Solution: Work hard on your mental game and treat it just as importantly as your technical game. Seek out resources such as the Mental Game of Poker 1&2 and be sure to work on the outside influences of your life, such as work out, diet, free time, and relationships. Identify why you react like you do when things are not going well and what triggers you when you are tilting or playing your D game.
You Have Life Leaks
Highlighting a bit more of the issues that I talked about in the previous section, life leaks can mean a variety of things- diet, relationships, work out, hobbies, and goals. All of these factors play heavily into your poker success and confidence. The best poker players in the world have very balanced lives (they work out, eat well, have relationships, and have productive hobbies).
If you are struggling on the poker tables and feel that you have a technically sound game, be sure to evaluate everything that is going on in your life. A balanced life matters. A lot. As many of these articles highlight, technical poker knowledge is not everything. Not only does the mental game also play a large part of poker success, but overall happiness and life balance as well. If you are doing nothing but playing poker, downswings can be more devastating. Furthermore, you might also lose sight of why you are playing to begin with and all of the benefits that come with playing poker professionally (freedom, love for the game, etc).
Solution: If you are struggling in poker due to outside life factors, take one thing at a time and be sure to evaluate all facets of your life. Try fixing your sleep schedule and not playing in the late hours of the night. If you have not left your apartment in 1 week, try to go outside and build relationships. Keep building your skills and make improvements in your extracurricular parts of your life. And so on.
Every player goes through downswings and every player goes through struggle and adversity. It is how you deal with it and learn from the losses that defines you as a poker player. Any skill or profession is a constant learning process and it is important that you focus on everything you can control. The bottom line is: Do not stop working and do not stop studying and working to be the best at your craft.