So you might be wondering why the hell I would put a smiley face after “downswing” in the title… welp, I guess I just decided not to be upset about it. I’m currently going through the largest downswing I’ve ever had. If I’m being honest, it’s not all that bad. I am, by nature, a bankroll nit and a bit weak when it comes to handling large swings. When I start to go on a downswing, I’ll usually drop in stakes, put in a few confidence grinds, and get it together. Also, the live games that I play have been so soft that it’s almost impossible to stay down for long. This time though, I decided to be a little harder on myself, continue playing the same stakes and try to weather the storm. That plan isn’t working out so well.
My January and start to 2012 is abismal. Just before leaving to go to the PCA, I had one of my biggest winning sessions ever, and I felt like I was playing at the top of my game. I went to the Bahamas, didn’t play a hand of poker for two weeks, and came back to Vegas ready to grind. After a couple of losing sessions, I already started to feel less confident. This is a huge l leak that I know I have, and I recently discussed it with Jared Tendler (author of The Mental Game of Poker) in one of the Strategy with Kristy podcasts. When I start to feel less confident, I begin to doubt myself, have less trust in my instincts, and make mistakes which obviously exacerbates the problem. I recognize that directly correlating my confidence with my results is completely irrational, but it’s hard to immediately break a habit I’ve had for years.
I’ve always been that way. If a bunch of people are like, “You’re awesome. You’re pretty. You’re good at your job,” I feel on top of the world. I feel like I can do anything and no one can stop me. If I read some comments or forums and people say, “She’s so ugly. She sucks. She’s annoying,” I have a habit of wanting to fold in on myself. In the past couple of years, I’ve become much stronger and my self confidence doesn’t hinge so much on what other people say about me anymore. Now, it motivates me to improve.
But for some reason, I’m still working on gaining that strength in poker. I think it’s maybe because I’ve had a chip on my shoulder. I’ve always felt like the girl who always has to prove how good I am. I want the pros I talk to at my job to approve of me as a player. I want my friends to respect my opinion when we all discuss poker. I guess I just wanted recognition for the hours and hard work that I’ve put in. It’s taken me this downswing to realize that it doesn’t matter.
Whether it’s poker, your career, or whatever, you have to do things for you. Of course recognition will come when you are “owning” in whatever you’re doing, but it shouldn’t be a motivator.
The most helpful thing that Jared taught me was how to “Inject logic.” Whenever you are feeling sorry for yourself at the tables, tilted, or even over confident, talk to yourself with rational reminders. I know that I am a huge winner in the games I play. Variance is an essential and inevitable part of the game. I know I still have a lot to learn. I know I still have leaks. I know that hard work is ahead of me, but I’m ready.
I woke up this morning ready to conquer the day. I ate some oatmeal and headed to the gym. (side story: There was gorgeous blonde with tiggo bitties on the middle treadmill of three, so I had to get on the one next to her. She was walking at a good pace. I started jogging and so did she. I stopped to stretch while she kept running. She stopped a minute later and smirked at me. I smiled back, not really sure what was going on. After stretching I got back on and started running again. So did she. I pushed the button to go a little faster. So did she. WTF? I continued with the plan I had in my head of how long/fast I was going to run. After two miles, I went faster. So did she. I laughed. Ok broad, is this really happening? Let’s go. I clicked the up button a bunch of times and kept running. Finally, she let out an exasperated sigh and slammed the Stop button. I ran a few extra yards for good measure and stopped. What the hell just happened? All I know is, if there was some sort of competition going on… I won. So yeah, I’m competitive) Anyway, I’m going come out of this downswing in no time. I’m not sure if I’m going to play today because I’d been making a ton of mistakes as an affect of my time of during the Bahamas, waning confidence, and frustrating of my downswing. I may take today off, depending on how I feel, but I plan on getting back on the saddle soon.
P.S. It helps to know that even the most amazing and talented players go on downswings. Phil Galfond recently posted this:
P.P.S. When I’m feeling down, memes always make me laugh. Yeah, I know, I’m a nerd. Whatever. I dare you not to laugh!
EDIT: Perfect timing. Jared just came out with a new podcast of his where he addresses confidence. Great listen.