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How I Plan To ATTACK My Online Poker Downswing


Sky Matsuhashi

on May 16, 2024

Ever been on a downswing? Most of us have, and I'm on one now.

I'll admit, it's not that big of a downswing. I'm only down 2.7 buy-ins right now, from a high of 2.5 buy-ins up this month (May 2024). However, I'm super results-oriented right now (I shouldn't be!), and my poker mindset has gone to pot! I barely want to play and I was excited all last month when I put in 63 hours!

So, I'm going to attack this downswing with the 4 parts below, and this may help you deal with current or future downswings.

Listen to Smart Poker Study Podcast Episode #489 as you follow along below:

My May 2024 Downswing Problem

I'm on a little bit of a downswing right now:

Only 2.7 buy-ins down, but it's effecting my mental game.


After last month's 63 hours over 10,000 hands with a + win rate of 12.39bb/100 hands, this downswing is hurting:

I had a great April, so the losses in May are effecting my mental game.


It's not the worst downswing in the world (I know, it's only 2.7 buy-ins down), but it's really affected the way I'm playing. I'm not putting in the hours playing nor studying that I want to because I'm just disheartened with my results (too results-oriented).

Starting today, May 16th, I'm going to ATTACK my downswing! This is something that I teach my students in the Poker Forge to do with the 4 parts below.


Part 1: Blame Yourself

DO NOT blame luck, bad luck, the dealer, the poker gods or your opponent for your downswing.

Ignore the Luck Bell Curve in PokerTracker 4 and the All-in Adjusted BB Win Rate. Luck doesn't matter, you cannot control luck nor your results.

However, YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR ACTIONS. That's what I'm blaming this downswing on… it's my own damn fault.

I'm playing too loose, making too many calls, too many wild bluffs and failing to find the fold when it's obvious my opponent has me beat.

Plus, I've played most of my sessions distracted (email is open, a YouTube video or podcast is playing, etc.), and that hurt my focus and helped lead me to a deteriorating poker mental state. 

But, I'm going to correct it by:

These are the things that I know lead to winning poker for myself, so I'm doing them all for the rest of May.



Part 2: Find Your Mistakes

I'm going to find my mistakes with daily 30-minute study sessions (doubled as my warm-up). I'll go through my database to analyzing my losing hands and plug my leaks.

I'll do daily hand reading exercises and play with focus on a specific strategy each day. 


Part 3: Outside Factors?

Think about any outside factors in life (non-poker) that might cause you stress/strife and effect your poker play.

For me, there's nothing right now, but some possibilities:

  • Your physical health.
  • Family/friends.
  • Job.
  • Money/expenses.

There isn't any easy solution to any of the above other than maybe you need to take a break from poker until life's stresses are resolved.


Part 4: Drop Down In Stakes


The $$$ losses from downswings can cause us mental anguish, so a drop in stakes helps to alleviate this stress.

Lower stakes are often easier to beat (we've beat it in the past quite often), so dropping and winning will build your confidence.

You can move back up once you overcome the downswing. For me, I'll drop down to 5nl where I crushed it last month. The goal: win back my losses to end up even or up a little for the month.

I'll jump back up and stakes assuming that I overcome the downswing by May 31st.

At a lower stake, it's easier to win and rebuild your bankroll, and it's less costly to build skills to plug leaks.


Take Action

Here's my challenge to you for this episode:

If you are on a downswing, assess what the real problem is; what's causing the downswing? Hint: It's NOT bad luck!

Maybe negative results are affecting you, something outside of poker or ??? Follow the 4 parts I outlined above and ATTACK your downswing starting today. Book some wins, regain that confidence and crush the downswing to turn yourself into a better player. 

If you're not on a downswing right now, will eventually be. Bookmark this podcast (Ctrl+D) so you can come back to it and ATTACK your future downswing.

Now it's your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game .


Sky Matsuhashi

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