In Poker there are certain things we have a minimal amount of control over: Variance, the future of Poker and getting a positive return on our investment. Obviously the greater the player the less of a concern these things will be, but even the greatest of players suffer from the things I’ve mentioned. Any Poker player that plays full time and has been in the game for long enough has experienced a downswing. A downswing can last for weeks, months and worst case scenario even years.
My biggest personal downswing was in 2013-2014, lasted around five months and I dropped around $60,000 during that period of time. It all started in late May 2013 after SCOOP; during SCOOP I had just had my largest score to date finishing 2nd in a $2100 6 max event for around $220k with multiple other nice scores and overall a successful series. After all the ‘’success’’ and being naive, young, full of confidence and having that feeling that I was unbeatable, I moved up in stakes and reached for the stars. It didn’t take long before that first proper downswing came knocking on my door and it left me in complete shock. I couldn’t believe how I went from being this ‘’unbelievable’’ player that had it all going for him to losing over a five month period. To be honest I was far from unbelievable and had a lot of mental game issues, one of them clearly being overconfidence.
That’s what happens to you in anything in life when you aren’t mentally prepared for such dramatic change. I had been in the game for a very short time, around 1.5 years, and simply didn’t understand everything that was going on. I went from being a winning player to being perceived as an absolute crusher after my ‘’success’’ in May 2013 and it was simply hard to deal with mentally. I have always been taught to be very humble and grateful for the things I have in life and have always tried my very best to be that way. During this time I was going on the path to being something I wasn’t.
At the time I had very little to no knowledge of the mental game, not to mention a mental coach to help me with what I was dealing with. I cannot exactly recall, but it was around that time I started reading Jared Tendler’s The Mental Game of Poker book. Reading his book really made me understand what I was going through and I finally started to put the pieces together. I can look back now and say that I am really happy for having the experience of potentially reaching the peak of my career at that time to sinking to the very bottom, and I think the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Perhaps without it I could still be wandering lost.
During that period I learnt so many things about myself not only as a Poker player, but also as a person, and it was all making me a lot stronger. I went back to being on the track of who I was and wanted to be, and had been taught a very valuable lesson that I would never forget. Eventually things started to come together and now I felt ready for the journey with my change in attitude and learning from my past experiences, I went on to have my most successful year in 2014.
What I wanted to say with my story is that the definition of being successful is not necessarily about having big scores, money or being perceived in a respectful way by others. It’s about how you handle whatever situation you are currently in by doing everything you are capable of and giving it your very best, that to me is succeeding. Even if, let’s say you’re having an underwhelming period in your life, losing in Poker or didn’t make the cut of the Football team that you dreamt of. You still know deep down inside that you are doing your very best to succeed. As long as you truly understand and believe that, then no one should be able to take that away from you. That makes your character very strong and that matters a lot more than how anyone perceives you!