Monday, 20 April 2015



I've been pretty absent from my blog lately... The first reason for that is obvious: wedding preparations! There's a lot more to it than I had ever imagined, but it's been a fun process that I'm enjoying overall so I will definitely not complain about that! :)

The rest of the stuff keeping me busy is poker related, so let's jump into it!

First, as I mentioned around the end of February, André and I moved into an office with other players. March has been the adaptation period to say the least. André and I have basically been debating all month long whether we really wanted to stay at the office or not. After a while it got really tiring, cause we couldn't even synchronize our opinions. On the days where I'd say to André "You know what, I don't think it's worth it, let's go back home", he was more keen on staying. Then the next day, after having thought about his arguments I'd re-open the conversation with "Maybe it's better to stay at the office after all..." only to realize that I had done a very good job at convincing him and now he wanted to leave. I can make you a separate post with more info if you'd like, but for now I think I'll spare you the details. Let me know in the comments if you'd be interested in reading a more detailed discussion on what it's like working at a poker office.

After weighing all the pros and cons, we decided to stay. But that was only towards the end of the month, after spending a lot of mental energies on the subject. Energies that could have been better spent elsewhere... Like poker for example!

Getting used to the new environment definitely took some time. Actually even now, after over a month I still don't feel like I'm operating at 100%. It may look as if I'm doing more or less the same schedule, play the same hours, go to the same dance lessons, etc. but my everyday routine has changed. After I get my morning coffee these days I have to prepare a bag with all my meals for the day to take with me and then prepare my gym bag. Every morning that I leave my house I carry so much stuff with me it looks like I'm going away on a trip. I enjoy working at the office and it definitely has its benefits, but at the same time I kind of feel like a nomad. Does that make sense?

Elegant dinning by the candle computer light

Work-wise things have been rather...tough. That's not a term I use often to describe my poker adventures, but in this case it's rather fitting. Let's be honest, I didn't seriously grind during the first two months of the year. So when I decided to get back to work, saying that I was rusty was an understatement. I was going through my poker notes and it was like someone else had written that stuff, not me. While reading I'd think stuff like "Hmm, that makes total sense!" or "Wow, that's really smart!". Making these remarks when talking with your future self would be okay (if that was ever possible). But when you're feeling that your former self of 3-4 months ago was a better player than what you are right now... You have a problem.

Naturally, I turned to studying. I wanted to study a lot but still play a decent amount of time in order to practice. I started with my regular stakes, but lost a bit of money so decided to move further down until I had confidence that I had regained my skill. At the small/medium stakes things seemed to be rather stable, with my graph going up and down around the same spot. Towards the end of the month  of March I decided to drop the small stakes and go back to playing medium stakes only.

I had spent quite some time studying alone. I also studied a bit with André. I felt like I was playing significantly better than before and yet... My graph kept moving down. And since I was playing higher stakes than before, the downfall got a bit more aggressive. Here's my yearly graph up to this point:

Quite ugly. You can make out the period where I dropped a bit on stakes cause the red line stopped dropping so fast. And then when I moved back up, it got steep again.I got to the point where the whole situation started to really mess with my head. I had a great year at the tables in 2014 but doubt is starting to creep in. What if I'm not a winning player anymore? I'm starting to lose my sleep over this, which only makes things worse cause playing tired doesn't help anyone.

And yet, I don't feel like I'm necessarily playing bad poker. If anything, I think I'm playing okay. I'm probably not at my best performance ever, but these results do feel undeserved. I've been studying and trying to improve but I think the part where I have the biggest problem is my mental game. After all, we know that at the hypers it's possible for winning players to have a span of 10k games where they're losing. The real question here is, (if that's what's happening to you) how do you get out of the 10k span without going crazy?

The only solution Andre and I could think of for this problem was Jared Tendler, the author of "The Mental Game of Poker". Earlier last week I had my first mental coaching session with him and I loved it. It didn't make all my problems disappear of course and Jared does not possess a magic wand that makes your downswings go away (unfortunately), but it did help me on an emotional level. I don't wanna say too much for now cause I've only had one session, it's still early and I have a lot of things to work on, but I will be writing more about my sessions with Jared in future posts.

For the time being, one of the big changes I made was to drop even further down on stakes. So these days you'll find me playing the $3.75s and the $6 hyper turbo satellites. I don't know how long this is going to last (not too long I hope!) but it's a good opportunity if you want to play with me but your bankroll didn't allow you to sit at the mid-stakes tables!

I'll be back with another post soon to let you know of my progress. I think it's important for me to talk about the hard times just like I talk about the good ones. From an outsider's perspective it may look like the life of a poker pro is always easy and it's like printing money, but it's not the case. Plus, I'm sure I'm not the only one that is stuck on the negative side of variance. How many of you are going through a downswing now? What do you do to relax and how do you try to turn it around?

See you at the tables! Good luck!


  1. Nice article. Feeling pretty much the same lately....stuck. What bankroll would you suggest when playing hyper turbos? I guess this is the basics in my case....

    1. Hello Milena,
      I'd suggest at least 100 buy-ins of the stakes you're playing. Good luck!

  2. Good Day!
    I had downswing for 2 months, but I`m not a grinder. So, it`s about 400 tournaments and 100 000 hands in cash. In first month it was difficult to keep agression out of my family. But later, I start to relax with deep breath and counting from 0 to 10 and back before I do or say something. Also, yoga and meditation help. And one of strong act - analize hands. I found some leaks, but in key hands, which I lost, I saw that I played right. It`s JUST bad beat. Distance can give you back all your money.

  3. Here is what helps me: 1. Accepting a downsing. Meaning that if I am going through one it wont be the last one. Unless I quit poker. 2. Having a good mindset is something that I have to work for. It is not a talent or gift. 3. If I am in the ´middle´ of a downswing I remind myself - that is how bad it gets. And that is not so bad. Because I do something that I love. I play cards. Online. For money. 4. Focusing on a bigger picture. 5. Exercising and eating very well. Sort of pampering myself. With long yoga stretches and healthy snacks. 6. Reading scientific books about how a mind and body works - i think it is easier to help myself if I know the reason why.

  4. Hey Katerina, sad to hear about that ugly downswing but it happens to all. From the moment you said "mental game" I immediately thought "she needs The Mental Game of Poker" xD glad you had it covered by talking to the author of the book (duh right?). Hope things turn around this month, best of luck to you!

  5. I'm sure you'll unstuck soon. With Jared's guidance you're having a great opportunity to work on your mental game and I think it'll be great to help you rebound. Get in that zone! ;)

    Also Kat, thanks for sharing about this "tough" time, as you said. I believe that it is really important for us to read about the difficult times of poker too, because people tend to value only the material and good things that come from poker and forget that this like these can really mess you up. Hang in there, I'm rooting for you and will be waiting to read more about your next upswing.

  6. Hey Katerina, I read the mental game myself and I can definitely say there's some very interesting stuff in there that certainly helped me in some spots. I have two considerations for you in relation to the games you play (and I used to) and the downswing you're experiencing.

    1. I always found the cool thing with hypers is how math based it is. This meant that with the right amount of study you can know to a relatively high degree of certainty that a decision you are making is 'correct' or optimal. So for me a big part of eliminating tilt/confidence issues was making sure what I was doing was 'correct'. When you study pre game and post game and realise that your decisions were based on math and were correct its difficult to really feel bad for yourself. So in short, study is important :) Im sure you already know this!

    2. It sounds like you have a very good work environment and a perfect environment to improve. I spent a month abroad with a group of fellow grinders and I can confidently say that that month improved my game to a level that may have taken years without the company and watchful eye of my peers. So naturally I'm very jealous of your situation and for me it sounds like you've made a very good decision to stay!

    Dowswings come and go, I myself ran a little under 400BIs below ev in the first 2 months of this year. Luckily our software gives us a better idea of how were playing and although you can get overly hung up on ev in our games in my opinion it is a good idea to take a step back and look at long term ev and prove to yourself where you've come from and how far you've come.

    Lastly and I'm not sure if this'll prove helpful at all to you. But when I'm going through a rough patch where maybe I'm feeling a little burnt out or I'm generally not feeling on top of my game I'll listen to audio books or podcasts (poker related or not) whilst I play. This keeps my brain engaged throughout the entire session as sometimes when experience bad card distro it can feel a bit like just clicking buttons aimlessly. But more importantly when I do this I can come away from a bad session having learnt something and there's no feeling of a wasted day.

    Anyway, thats my 2 cents :) Probably reads like a bit of a rant but maybe you can take something useful out of it. Gl at the tables!

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to write back. Rant or not, it does help knowing that other players go through similar situations. And that's a solid way of thinking you've got there. Best of luck! :)

  7. THEitinBEST about grinding and listening to a book/pod cast at the same time. We simply cannot perform two cognitive tasks at the same time. What happens is that you switch between different tasks. Therefore an attempt to multitask can be wasteful. Unlike a day that has a negative outcome. Dollar wise I mean. What you describe is variance. Therefore you should not concentrate on short term results or compare them to long term results. If clicking buttons is connected to ´bad´ card distribution then find out why and how you can make a change. But when you grind. Just do that. I will be probably hard. But worth it.

  8. Hi Katerina!

    I am very sorry to hear about your recent misfortune at the tables.

    I wish everything gets sorted out soon.

    Since you are a team pro and a very well connected poker player, I was wondering if you knew a coach that teaches the satellites.



    1. I'm sorry NBenitus, unfortunately I don't know anyone who gives coaching for satellites.


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