Poker is a game of skill, but there is a very large element of chance to it as well. Because of the chance factor, there is a lot of variance in any given player’s results—no matter how good they are. These variations are generally referred to as “downswings” and “upswings”.


What Is A Downswing In Poker?

A downswing is something that will happen to every poker player at some point—from the amateur player to the best in the world. It’s basically a prolonged period of time of consistent losses. On a graph, it would look like a steady or sharp downwards line over a medium to large sample of hands. It is, however, completely normal to experience a downswing.

Poker is a game with a lot of variance and luck. Even with a big edge over the player pool, you can get incredibly unlucky again and again. Part of being a professional poker player is knowing how to handle these downswings, both mentally and emotionally.

Not everyone handles downswings well. Generally, your edge over the player pool and your win rate will factor into how long or severe your downswings can be.


What Is An Upswing?

An upswing is the exact opposite of a downswing. It’s a prolonged period of consistent winning. A lot of amateurs or even professionals may become overconfident in their poker abilities because of this upswing and believe themselves to be much better players than they are. A nice healthy downswing usually humbles these players.


Tips On How To Handle Downswings

Even small downswings can be tough to deal with. Nothing will shake your confidence and deflate your ego like a few solid losses against players that you know in your heart you should be beating. There are, however, a few things you can do to take some of the sting out of those sessions.



Reflect on your game. Make sure you are going through a downswing because of luck and not actually making bad plays. Downswings can make even the really good players lose confidence and start making plays that are not their normal style. This can range from forcing more bluffs than usual in an attempt to win more pots, to folding more than usual because they kept getting shown the nuts. This type of downswing behavior is a gradual trend in a player’s game and will progressively snowball and get worse if the downswing continues.


Take A Break

Sometimes your head is not in the right place, especially when you get shown the nuts every hand. Taking a break from everything poker related can be the perfect reset your brain needs. Get out in the fresh air, go hiking or even go partying! Just do something that is different from the usual daily poker grind.


Move Down Stakes

A lot of poker players struggle with big egos and don’t want to move down. You don’t have to move down permanently, just a short period of time for you to play against a softer player pool that has less dramatic swings. Going on a downswing can make a professional poker player lose confidence in their abilities and moving down for a while can be just the thing to regain that lost confidence.


Concluding Thoughts


Downswings happen to everyone. Remain calm, focus, and play your best on every hand. You are a winning player and you will get back to winning. Work on your game off the tables, discuss hands with your friends to make sure your head is in the right place. Take some time off, you likely need and deserve some time off from the tables.
Remember, for every downswing, there’s an upswing.
Why not check out the new poker app PKC? The soft games on PKC will help your downswings be short and sweet and your upswings long and steady!