Thursday, March 1, 2007

My Thoughts on "Coming Back"

To me, a day where I lose a decent amount of bankroll early and come back to near-even can be at times more satisfying than a big day on the plus side. Even though I make little or no profit on those days, it feels like a very nice accomplishment. I guess it comes from remembering those days when I wasn't able to come back.

There's a zone that I sometimes get into. A "bad zone" where there's an element of panic, one of frustration, one of self-doubt, with a dash of self-pity thrown in. A bad recipe! Sure sounds like "tilt", but there's more to it. I bet many others have experienced it. Maybe you lose a couple big hands to bad beats or just bad plays on your part. You see your bankroll take a hit, so you switch tables. A couple more losses and you're ready for some sit-n-go's. You make a big bluff and some donkey calls it with 3rd pair and you're out. You try another SnG and another. Then you are down twice as much as when you were at the ring tables. I think we've all been there.

Well then, what are the keys to a correct recovery? I'm not a full-fledged poker expert, but I'm learning some of these keys by trial and error. Everyone pretty much knows that you should avoid panic/tilt and shouldn't get desperate. But the first key I have found that helps in this specific situation is to stay with the same type of game you began the day with. The reason is that you are looking for that satisfaction of conquering the monster that brought you down. If I lose some on a ring table, I switch to a different table of the same stakes or lower (bad idea to ever go up in stakes here). If I lose a couple SnG's, I try a lower buy-in or try turbo or even a different site's SnG's. I just stay with the same type of game because the satisfaction of a comeback will be greater than just the bankroll recovery. If I'm even or ahead for the day, then I'm OK with switching games to fight boredom.

How far back do I need to come to be satisfied? Well, I'd say around halfway back usually does it for me personally. If I get down $30 and can get back to under -$20, I usually feel good. Sometimes 1 or 2 SnG cashes usually does the trick, no matter the dollar amount. The key here is that everyone has their own threshold for satisfaction.

What if I can't get back to around "half down"? The key is that you gotta know when to stop. Lately I have gotten a good feel for when I should stop until tomorrow. Then I can usually carry over the comeback exercise to the next day and try to get the same satisfaction. Say if I lose $30 in a day and quit, my satisfaction would still exist if I make back $14 the next day.

This all depends on the confidence you have in your game. I've worked my way up from 1c/2c & 2c/4c NLHE, where a bustout doesn't hurt so badly, to 5c/10c & 10c/25c, which is within the limits of my current bankroll. At my current level, I have the confidence that I can lose half my stack and still come back to satisfaction. If you don't have that kind of confidence, stay in the lower stakes until you do. This goes back to some of my previous posts on what I call "Poker Psychology".

OK, what if I reverse it? Say I play about even all day and run bad late in the day before I have to hit the sack. What then? I personally try to think of how well I played until the bad run and just try to duplicate that tomorrow. Maybe try to postpone the comeback feeling until tomorrow. Try to link the days together. Hey, isn't life a big "comeback"?

It's all about not digging yourself a deep hole. It's about trying to stay positive. It's about avoiding desperation. I believe that confidence plays a major role in it all. That role is even bigger than the role bankroll size plays. A player could have a $10,000 bankroll. But if they don't have the confidence (and skill, of course) big enough to match that number, they had better stick with nickels until they do.

1 comment:

Jimbo said...

Very nice post! This exact same thing has busted me several times. What I've been doing to combatthe Tilt factor is I try a couple times to come back and if I'm concentrating more on coming back than I am the game I'll leave and review some past tournaments. If I'm hellbent on playing it out then I'll switch to some limit ring games until my attitude changes(If you bust on those then you need to review something).