Dysthymia: chronic depressed mood for most of the day, more days than not, for at least two years. Often considered to be a "characterological" depression - the depression is the very core of how the person operates and thinks. These individuals experience chronic feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. The symptoms are thus similar to Major Depression, just not as severe. There is, however, no "loss of interest in pleasurable activities" nor an "inability to experience pleasure" which sometimes accompanies Major Depression.I'm sure that the Poker Shrink would have more to say about the topic of dysthymia, but if there's one word that could aptly describe my poker play at some point in my life, it would be... dysthymic. The first few months of 2006 were the height of my dysthymic period when I lost a chunk of my bankroll online.
We've all been down about our poker game. Usually we're stuck in a rut and unable to make good things happen. Sometime we're caught in the middle of a horrendous losing streak. Or perhaps you're hitting the wall day after day and bubbling out of tournaments after several hours of solid play only to get sucked out on by some 14 year old kid from Finland.
Pros tell you that losing streaks are a part of the game. Some even admit to going broke more than once. Some pros go broke a few times a year. What they don't tell you is that losing streaks are what set apart the pros from the amateurs. Some newbies give up after they go broke and never return to the game. Other beginning players fail to adjust their games during losing streaks as they slide deeper and deeper into oblivion. Pros often will look at their game in terms of the bigger picture. Have they been making solid decisions? If not, then they need to plug those leaks. If so, they carry on to play another day knowing that over the long run they can and will beat the game.
However, after you drop your tenth buy-in at a 10/20 limit table inside of a week, you start to question everything in your poker arsenal.
Am I playing too many hands? Wait, I'm playing too tight. I need to limp more with big hands. I need to stop being a pussy and raise more with junk hands. I need to re-raise more in position because that's what Doyle would do. I should jam more with draws. Suited gappers are underrated. I'll never play A-Q again. I need to play more aggressive on the turn and stop worrying about getting sucked out on. Maybe I need to play more passive post-flop because I keep overplaying my hands when I miss the flop. I need to take better notes on my opponents and stop downloading Shaved Swedish Teen porn. I need to pay more attention to the stats because numbers never lie. I need to play more tables simultaneously because that will mean I'll play tighter. I need to switch to NL so I can get a big score because I'm sick of those inbred fucktards who can't fold any ace or any two suited cards in limit. PLO is the future of poker so I need to stop playing Hold'em. I am fat. I am repulsive. I cannot bear my own reflection. I need to hang out with more pros so I can learn more about poker. Ah, fuck those assholes. They're just degenerate lucktards and most of them are backed anyway. I need to stop playing short-handed because I'm getting killed in rake. I need to read old poker books and brush up on Super System. I need to read less about poker and more about philosophy and military strategy. I need to read less forums and I need to find some new poker blogs to read. I need to turn off my chat. I should hide myself from searches because all my railbirds are bad luck. Maybe I should only play on weekends? No, I should only play on weeknights. Never during the day, because that's when the pros play. But the sharks wait until the weekends to fleece the fish. Maybe I should only play at Midnights on Tuesdays. Maybe if I put less bad beats on people, I won't get so many in return? I lose too much on Poker Stars so I'm only going to lay on Full Tilt. Fuck, do I miss Party Poker. I never had losing streaks on Party Poker. Maybe I need to develop an addiction to speed? And not trucker's speed, the real shit. The stuff Air Force fighter pilots get. I need to quit poker and get out while I still have some dignity left. This isn't fun anymore. I should write more about competitive eating. No, I'm going to finally sit down and write that Las Vegas book, even if it kills me. No, on second thought that screenplay idea needs to be hammered out. Who wouldn't want to see Reservoir Dogs meets Bring It On? Maybe I should join the Peace Corps and teach people on the Solomon Islands how to built huts and purify their water? Wait, what city am I in again? Don't I have a plane to catch?
Of course that internal conversation runs through my head on every hand that I play. After a few hours, I'm mentally exhausted. Throw in a losing streak and I'm completely spent after a session.
I'm from the school of thought that if you are in a rut, you plug away and play through it. Whether it's writing or poker or life, I keep on going because eventually the tide has to turn. After the major loses in early 2006, I managed to stop the bleeding and became a break even player before I started winning again. I had a couple of decent months and a few bad months, but I avoided any bad losing streaks aside from the stretch in December when I got my ass handed to me in Las Vegas during the blogger trip after I got seriously cold-decked playing Pai Gow. To this day, I often wonder how any sane person could lose $1K playing $5 Pai Gow. Yet, that's what happened. Sometimes, I'm addicted to losing.
That's when I decided that there are times when you should avoid poker during a losing streak. How do you stop losing money during a bad run of cards? Don't play. That will guarantee that you "break even." Lou Krieger suggest watching movies during a losing streak. There are plenty of other things you could be doing to improve your life. Go spend time with your family or friends. Read a book. A non-poker book. Clean your house. Go exercise. And how about this... go out and get yourself laid. If you have to pay women to fuck you, go spend some of your bankroll and get a rub and a tug. If you have any mojo, go get shitfaced at the local bar and go home with a complete stranger. If you are a female, just walk outside and show some cleavage. Within five minutes someone will hit on you. Sex is a great distraction. Trust me. A chilling orgasm will make you forget about the river donkeys in a heartbeat.
That time you spend away from the tables will do wonders for your daily existence along with giving yourself a necessary break away from poker. Those feelings of worthlessness (due to your losing streak) will eventually subside if you spend a substantial amount of time away from poker. You will experience that there is indeed more to life outside of poker, so when you do return to the tables, your losing streak is less relevant and appears less severe in your mind.
Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker. All rights reserved.