Control what you can
If you follow my Twitter feed, then you know that near the start of the World Series of Poker, I tweeted, "Didn't think it was possible to run this bad for over a year, but apparently it is. Still feeling good and ready to turn it all around!" That tweet generated a great deal of response, publicly and privately, so I thought I'd expand on it a bit.
I don't know when the run started, but it's been going on for a while now. It's hard not to get frustrated during a bad run. You ask yourself, "Mathematically speaking, how is this even possible?" You feel like you're getting beat as a favorite all the time. It gets to you sometimes.
I certainly have worked a lot on my game in the last year while I've been running bad. When I started going over things, I noticed that I played quite poorly a number of times. I definitely don't attribute everything to bad luck. That's a very unhealthy thing to do. It doesn't help you in any way.
For me, I've been doing a lot of hand analyzing. I record hands that I've played, hands that I've observed but wasn't involved in, and hands that I've observed that cause me to imagine "what if" situations.
Then later on at home I go over the hands, go through some scenarios and create situations for myself in the future to experiment on. I keep doing that and see what works and what doesn't and then try to make conclusions. That's really helped me.
I also try to find ways to improve myself in non-poker ways, things like exercise and nutrition. I concentrate on things that I have 100% control over. I spend time talking with my family and friends, enjoying life in general and appreciating how lucky I am to have the kind of occupation I have.
Luck in poker is not under my control or under anyone's control. The only thing I can do is try to play better, see if I'm making any mistakes and try to concentrate on things in my life that are under my control.
Of course you do feel down when you continue to get bad beats. I try as hard as I can for that to be a short-term thing. Usually a good night's sleep will get me through it.
I'm not sure how I'll be able to say that this run-bad streak is over. It will probably be a general feeling that I get at a poker table: how much control I have over the other players, how much understanding of my opponents' games I have, whether I feel confident that I am putting myself in good situations. It won't be so much about luck. It will be more about "Am I doing the right things to accumulate chips?"
Running bad is part of the poker and part of the game. I'm not the only one who's gone through it. How you deal with it makes you who you are.
Eugene Katchalov is a member of Team PokerStars Pro