There are several things that make poker enjoyable. Sitting down with friends for a home game or even heading to your local casino to take on other players you know emphasizes the camaraderie of the game. The strategies and mindsets employed in playing the game help to keep your mental wits about you. Finally, there’s the financial windfall that is possible in the game…everyone likes to make money! But guess what? There isn’t a steadfast rule that poker is SUPPOSED to be fun!
I was sparked to write this because of something I read online recently. In one of the forums that I belong to a player was lamenting his situation of late. “I forgot how to win,” he started simply. “I literally lose every time I play now. Get it in good every time against a player with barely a prayer and they get there every time. Doesn’t matter the situation…one out, two outs…A-A against 9-5 off for $750 each preflop. Doesn’t matter. Seriously need some advice. I’m getting sick of poker because of the beats I take now. (It’s) no longer fun…”
The most important thing you must examine is why you’re playing poker. If you are playing the game because you enjoy the competition or you enjoy the night out at the casino – in other words, you’re a recreational player – then whether you win or lose isn’t the first thing you should be looking at. If you get a night’s entertainment out of your night on the tables, then you’ve gotten what you were looking for. If you win some money on top of that, then it’s whipped topping on the hot fudge sundae!
This isn’t to say that you can’t be competitive while you’re enjoying yourself. Getting those competitive juices flowing is one of the things that people love about playing the game of poker. If that part of psyche is satisfied, then you’ve been successful at why you’re playing the game.
The questions and answers change if you’re playing poker to make a living. Once you’ve broached that point where poker is now a business, you’ve also broached the point where poker is supposed to be fun. Although the dream of everyone is to find that job that you love, as Mr. Spock said in an episode of Star Trek, “Beware of what you wish for.” With this said, there are some things that can be done to try to make the trip to the casino to play poker as a profession less like a “death march.”
Consider the location you’re playing first. Are you too familiar with the people that you’re playing against? If you become familiar to your opponents, that means that the same ploys you exercised that worked a few months ago are going to be noticed. Your opponents, if they’re worth their while as a player, is going to recognize your tendencies and adjust as appropriate. A casino change, if possible, could be one of the easiest cures to your problems.
If that doesn’t work or isn’t possible, then its time to start looking at the stakes you’re playing. Are you playing your best possible game? If you cannot answer this question affirmatively, it is possible that you are playing at stakes that are too rich for your bankroll. The intimidation that protecting a bankroll brings to the game – versus being able to exercise all the tools in your toolbox – is going to influence winning at the tables. Move down in stakes and relieve some of the pressure that you’re putting on yourself.
Although you may be using poker as your profession, there is something to be said for stepping away for a bit. There’s a reason that the “9 to 5” world only exists from Monday through Friday – everyone needs a break from their “job.” While you can play poker every day (hour) of the week, there’s something to be said for taking a day off the tables. Read a book for fun, go play golf, binge watch a television program, eat a fine dinner…all of these are good suggestions and there are plenty more. Just step away from your “job” and take some time for yourself.
Finally, if you are continuing to lose (and poker is your job), perhaps it is time to look at a profession change. Not everyone can cut (let’s be honest) gambling as a method of making a living. Most people are risk-adverse and prefer not to have that rent check depending on what card comes on the river or the outcome of a sports bet. Breaking a losing streak may entail actually having a job outside of the game, one to bring in some money, instead of depending entirely on the turn of a friendly card.
Poker is supposed to be a fun game. It is supposed to be a way to “get away” from the daily doldrums. That goes out the window, however, when you’re playing to make a living. When poker is your job, it is your job to ensure that you’re making money; when a losing streak hits in your job, it can be severely painful. Sometimes the best way to rectify that and simultaneously returning the “fun” to the game is to go back to being an amateur player.