On a slide

I had a great weekend, playing poker well, winning table after table. Many first place finishes, went up to 2.3M chips. Between Monday and today, I’ve now played 15 table tournaments in a row, and have yet to come away with any chips won, and my bankroll is back down to just 1.9M chips.

My slide was gradual. At first, I played 9-seat tables and was chip leader until hitting a disaster hand, getting eliminated 5th, but with a good hand that I had played right, and just got beat with a unlucky river.

I continued playing, and stopped getting cards, and sat back and watched everyone else take chips, picked a moment and took down a big pot with my one or two good hands that table, and found myself suddenly the big stack, then got dealt good cards, bet them too high, still got called, didn’t hit anything on the flop, and got killed and eliminated.

Today its been more of the same, with worse cards and even worse play. My last two tables, I played like a complete idiot, going out on the 1st and 3rd hand that I had no business going all-in with.

I should probably just quit and come back after some cool-off time.

To make this an actual discussion, how do you handle your slides? Do you play through them? Do you cut yourself off at a certain point and tell yourself to come back another day? What do you look for?

1 Like

Depending on my overall mood, I:

  • stop playing entirely
  • play at stakes that are a pittance for my bankroll until I can pull out of the slump
  • go berserk on a higher stakes table and lose 1/3 of my bankroll

December has been a bad month for a lot of folks, myself and my friends list included. Mercury in retrograde or something…


Different for every player of course, but I would say the best course of action when on a slide or downswing is to step away for a bit, so that you’re not tempted to try to quickly win back what you lost. As we all are fully aware, playing with this intention if often a suicide mission. Personally, I like to step away entirely for a day. It calms me down, and makes my train of thought clearer for when I come back. I then like to take another day to either study, watch, or read the forums. I’ll watch poker on TV or YouTube, or try to study a topic, or just read the forums. I like to read a lot of what many players say, and pay particular attention to what @JoeDirk, @1Warlock, @SunPowerGuru , @love2eattacos , @Sassy_Sarah , @Maya , @yiazmat , and @WannabeCoder (Sam) have to say. Not putting any person above or below another…I just like their posts and way of thinking in general; it usually puts me in a better mindset. I’ll read a refresher page from poker sites courses, and then come back and play. TBH I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, and I fully admit I don’t study or attempt to improve anywhere even remotely close to as much as I should. But I would say that a serious break should likely consist of at least one or two full days of no playing, followed by an observational (study, read, watch) day or two. Different for everyone. Just my two cents. :slightly_smiling_face:


First, recognize that this is perfectly normal. There will be both up times and down times. They will last longer than seems natural, but it IS natural, and it will–eventually–end. In the meanwhile, be patient. You might also consider going down a level or two in the size games you’re playing, so as to risk less until things return to normal. I’ve been known to switch to a completely different game (from Hold’em to Hi-Lo, for example). At least it gives the mind a change of pace that allows it to reset itself. Then, when I come back, things seem better. Got nothing to lose by trying (except chips, LOL). If you’ve been playing mostly tournament type events, switch to rings for a few hours. Anything at all to stretch your mind and distract you from your “normal” habits.


High variance is the nature of this beast. The high luck factor means you will have periods of great success and of non-stop losses. You can’t make too much of either one. Its just the way the tournaments are set up, along with the high percentage of people who are here to gamble, not play the game.


I finally ended my slide, at 18th table in 2 days, taking 2nd place in a 9-hand SNG. Total losses: about 400k chips. Could be worse I suppose, but I JUST WON THOSE CHIPS, DANGIT. lol.

1 Like

@lad44 thanks for including me. Most of the players you listed are much better players and would give much better advice. But here goes nothing lol.
Personally I don’t take any break when on a slide, mainly because I don’t play to win, and when I lose, I don’t play more to win it back. I always play at the same pace regardless of outcome.
I always recognize the slide, and play through it. Like Alan said, I might switch between formats, or try to play lower stakes than usual, but as long as my point is neither to win back what I’m losing nor to win big, it’s ok to keep playing and lose a little, knowing that at some point later I’ll be playing and winning a lot.
Also it’s hard to tell when a slide would end, so I like to keep playing till I see it ending :slight_smile:
But as you said, it’s different for everyone. I think it mostly depends on what your goals are. I feel that the less you focus on just winning, the more you enjoy the game and the more you actually end up winning.
Best of luck :wink::+1:


Yay! I just wish I was here to take some of those chips :slight_smile:

What can you do when you are facing tables of people like this:

It becomes a crap-shoot, not a poker game. I have no problem with people who want to do this but it makes the games all about luck instead of skill. If you win a few more flips than normal, you are winning games. If you lose a few more than normal, you aren’t cashing. If you want to reduce the luck-factor, play the games with deeper starting stacks and slower blind levels. All tournaments are high-variance. The shorter the stacks, the more variance. The faster the blinds increase, the more variance. The more players, the higher the variance. Almost every game here is set up to be very high variance, like turbos in online cash. The lowest variance games will be the ring games.


I findthe opposite to be the case. The Ring tables are so full of people betting huge, many times the blinds, before the flop, often with marginal or garbage hands. But you can never be sure, there are too many psychos, and you end up with a lot of variance that way.

1 Like

Can’t do anything about the players. Its just the type of game that has the least variance built into it.

Fair; I do take the style of play into consideration though.

The only thing you really need to avoid when on a slide is friction burn. :anguished:
I find wearing pants helps a great deal.


Wow - I think you are more right than I even suspected here. I was looking to get into a ring game and these are the 1st 2 hands I saw on the 1st one I looked in to:

I’d say this is about as high variance as you can get! WTF are people doing?


I understand it. I don’t really like it.

The structure of Ring game play is so low-variance, that players get bored and start playing stupid-crazy like that in order to introduce variance so that the game will be more interesting.

It seems that it just takes one player to start making huge overbets. Not necessarily shoving, but I think players in the Ring are sizing bets based off of their stack size, or their opponent’s stack size, rather than based on the size of the blinds. They basically ignore the blinds.

One person does it, and then the next one does it back as retalliation, and then pretty soon everyone’s doing it. They have to do it.

Another factor that contributes to it is that since every chip won in a Ring game is a chip you really add to your bankroll, people go there looking for a maximum score, and try to get it quick. If you’re going to win a pot in Ring play, you may as well win a very big one.

Additional variance is introduced by the fact that players can come and go from a table at will. Departures and arrivals will change the character of the table. No one has a read on the new player yet, and usually the new player uses that to their advantage and will play more hands, very loose and aggressive, hoping to take some big pots down, perhaps to then leave just as quickly, or else settle in for a while.

Since players can re-buy as much as they like, getting eliminated isn’t a concern as it is in tournament play. A player who plays a disruptive bingo-style game will go bust, immediately re-buy, and go right back to bingo. There’s nothing to stop them. At least in a tournament, that style of play is quickly weeded out.

This is why I’ve taken to playing exclusively SNG and MTT games. It allows me to play a more serious, strategic style of play that favors reducing risk and avoiding the big mistakes. I feel like that is more “real” poker than what you typically see in the Ring these days.

1 Like

When I go on a bad run, I try to understand what is causing the slide. Sometimes there is an opportunity to improve some aspect of my game.

  • Is someone exploiting a mistake in my play? I’ll go to the hand history and review the hands where I lost big pots and try to break down the play. If something specific happened that I didn’t know how to deal with (for example let’s say they are always overbetting the river) then I’ll go study that spot and come up with countermeasures for next time. Plus, I’ll look at how to incorporate that play into my game - if it gives me trouble then it probably gives other players trouble too.
  • Did I go on tilt? If it was tilt I try to look at what specifically made me tilt and evaluate how to deal with that better. For example, I used to tilt quite badly if I had a session where players repeatedly caught their 4-outers on the river against me. I found that it helps to remind myself when that happens that in the long run they are giving me their chips this way, and they will likely give me an opportunity soon to win their whole stack. Nowadays I will still roll my eyes and groan when someone draws out, but I’m able to rebalance mentally before the next hand starts and avoid tilting.
  • Is it simply a run of bad cards? If I think it is bad cards, is it REALLY bad cards or am I making excuses for my own bad play? Maybe I tilted in some way and didn’t notice it. Maybe I let the variance of poker get to me and changed my play. However, if it’s really just bad cards then I’ll play on through it.
  • Is there some life factor outside of poker making me play my C-game instead of my A-game?
  • Do I just need to limit the number of margaritas I’m drinking while I play?

Yeah, tennis is a treat. One of those people I have marked as “ATM” in the notes.

All-in with 2-3 offsuit vs. monsters. Good job there buddy, haha…

This assessment, and the entire comment really, is spot-on. I go looking for these sorts of tables if I just want to get a big stack quickly. I can satiate that urge for excitement without getting blamed for the disruption.


thanks for including me into your list.
i see most is already said by now, but i can tell you what helps me. i usually try a few different things.

first of all, try to recognise when you are starting to get in tilt, it’s much easier to get out of it then when you are already so far that you only want to smash the all-in button.
if you’re starting to get in tilt try to make a small break, which can be just 5 minutes or maybe an hour, it really depends on when your mind feels clear again.

another thing that helps me is just trying to get the mindset that every bad beat is actually a hand where you would have won most long term.

and if you are already really that far in your tilt, the best thing is to take a much longer break, which can vary through a few hours, to a few days, or if it’s really really bad, you might even consider a few weeks. it all depends on when you feel calm again and want to play. if you still feel you wanna rush into it or feel like you still wanna make up for your losses, it’s probably best to wait a bit longer


Most of what needs to be said has already been said by others.

The smart choice during a slide is to take a break either to balance emotions or to analyze the cause of the downswing, or at least move to lower stakes so you do not damage your bankroll.

I have gone on tilt and lost more than half of my bankroll twice (lost a total of ~375,000,000), so I know the answer is NOT to move up stakes and bluff more.

As far as ring versus tournaments, MTTs have more variance because you just won’t win as often, while in ring games you can pick up your winnings and leave at any time. But I agree that at low-to-medium stakes the ring games here are more like bingo and players are trying slightly harder in tournaments. That means SnGs can be a good choice, especially if you are comfortable with the format, because the variance is not too high and the play is somewhat more predictable.

It may not be a good idea to move up when you are on a downswing, but if you have a bankroll of ~2m you can afford to play 200/400 ring, which, while still pretty bingo-y, is better than the lower stakes. If you can move up to 500/1000 that is the level where the play is not so crazy, so it is possible to win consistently.


I’ve been on a slump now for the last 6 - 8 weeks, it happens …and as a few have said before, taking a break from playing helps the mental state of being on a permanent downer, Myself (as a Moderator), I’m expected to be on site most days if not all every day of the week so that in order to help poker noobs or anyone else who happens to be having a problem of some kind, …usually I just stick to playing the free rolls or games that don’t exceed my daily bonus (2500 chips) for the buy in… that way if I’m still on a losing streak it’s not eating into my bankroll. I know that it will pick up again soon and if it doesn’t then I take a good look at the way I’m playing :wink:

1 Like

Thanks to @lad44 for the mention.

Downswings are fairly common when playing tournament poker, even when you’re playing perfectly. Variance is high, only the top few entrants are paid, and most of the payouts are in the realm of 1-3 buy-ins. As a result, when you do play tournaments, you need to make sure your bankroll is deep enough to handle strings of 10+ tournaments in a row when you either don’t cash or merely tread water, with the goal of running very deep and scoring a top finish instead of a min-cash.

@puggywug, considering you mentioned that you’ve played about a dozen tournaments and only took a 20% hit to your bankroll, it appears that you’re employing solid bankroll management, and have taken this lesson to heart. Props.

As far as how you manage your downswings, I can’t do much to improve upon what many of the other commenters have said. Off-table analysis is critical during downswings as well as upswings. Are you just suffering from the vagaries of variance, or are there holes in your game? Were your recent losses due to big hands you should have let go? Have you been bleeding chips by calling or opening too wide? Are you getting full value when you do make a hand, or are you playing too passively? Don’t just look at your big pots - often low-stake tournaments are lost due to steady stack erosion from out-of-position calls with weak hands, even more than the occasional large pot.

Another tactic you may wish to consider, particularly if you think you might be too tilted or biased to analyze your own play, is to pull up a video of the final table of a real-life high-stake tourney. Try to guess each player’s action before they make it. If they fold when you would have called, or re-raise when you would have folded, do you understand why? When they bet or raise, is their sizing in alignment with what you would have used? You can learn a lot from how pros play the game, and there’s quite a bit of free video available online.