Recently going through a ridiculous downswing, and trying to get some perspective. I know everyone goes through them, but somehow my swings seem more extreme than you'd expect. I've been logging my sessions in poker journal starting the beginning of the year, and here are some major turning points:
1/31 - up about 900
2/1- 4/25 major downswing (-4400) yearly total at -3500
4/25-7/10 major rebound (+8.1k) yearly total at +4600
7/10-Present another huge downswing (-4600) back to zero for the year
Almost all of this action comes from 1/2 tables. I know Bart and some others have suggested that 1/2 is unbeatable long term, but the structure where I plau (Atlantic City) is much more friendly to 1/2. Players usually buy in from 150-300 and the rake is 10% up to 4 plus one for the BBJ. Seems to me like this structure is beatable.
Problem is, when I am doing well, I play with confidence, push small edges, make plays when I sense weakness, make hero folds correctly, etc. When I am struggling, it seems like everything is a bit off. I try to reduce variance by tightening up preflop and avoiding marginal spots postflop. For example, I'm more likely to check fold 99 on a Q85 board, whereas when I'm running well I'm more likely to cbet or c/r. I think these are the types of plays that aren't strongly EV one way or the other, but they do increase variance, so I'll play safe. It seems, though, that players at the table sense weakness - suddenly I'm getting check-raised on every c-bet, players are bluffing me and showing it. I'd gotten used to just sitting down and running the table - playing with no fear, and not having to worry about anyone messing with me. Once things go wrong, though, they go very, very wrong.
From highlights from my last trip include flopping 3 sets and one boat over 6 days. I won one of those (bet flop w set of aces and everyone folded), and lost the other three. 2 of these cost me my stack. The boat I actually folded on the river (pocket 3s on QQ3JJ board, guy showed KQ). I had kings four times - once folded pre and guy showed aces, once folded flop when ace popped, other I stacked off against aces, fourth I bet T96 flop, and checked behind turn 9 and river T (A9o was trying to trap me). Aces four times (one was the set) other 2 everyone folded pre. fourth time, guy called $35 pre at a 1-2 game w 3s4s, put me in on tw-spade flop and turned flush. Lost two buy-ins getting overflushed, etc, etc. Sure there were some bad moves in there - I probably bluffed off 3 buy ins, but overall I lost ten buy ins this week at $200 a pop.
I guess my question is, at what point do you decide that run bad is variance and at what point is it an issue with your play? I feel like my understanding of fundamentals is solid, and I don't make a lot of the mistakes I see other players making. For example, I'll be at a table where a $15 preflop raise gets called six ways, and players are showing up w 69o type hands, even though they are playing $200 stacks. Mathematically it seems impossible for them to win like this, just praying to flop trips or a straight, but again and again I keep running into these ridiculous random situations. It also seems mathematically impossible to have downswings of 4600 at 1/2 (that's 23 buy ins, and isn't 10 buy ins supposed to be a standard downswing limit?)
Feeling like a whole year of work has just been wiped away in the past few weeks is really affecting me mentally, both at the table and away from it. I've seriously thought about quitting poker altogether. I had told myself earlier that I would make a decision at the end of the year about whether poker was worth continuing based on my end of year hourly rate. Obviously, if I keep losing at this rate, I won't make it to the end of the year. Part of me thinks it may be best to just give up completely and spend my time being human - getting outdoors, going to bars, etc. Another part of me thinks the variance is the result of the 1/2 "jungle." Supposedly 1/2 should be the easiest game to beat, but when you're playing 7 people for hand and everyone's just trying to hit the lottery, it starts to feel like the game is completely random. By that logic, I should be moving up. I don't really have the bankroll to play 2/5 or higher, but since poker is not my primary income, I could just take shots at $400 a pop here and there until I get a bankroll built up. I'm also a bit reluctant to move up during a downswing since it's the opposite of what you're supposed to do, but I've been waiting weeks for things to turn around, but it just doesn't seem to be happening.
Has anyone been through a similar experience?