Ask the Pros (Ep. 5): Keeping cool after a loss

The final installment of our Ask the Pros series with questions from readers comes today from Julie Lamontagne, and it's an issue that all of us who play poker have to deal with, usually on a daily basis. It never gets easy, but with practice it can get better. Here's her question:

Julie Lamontagne: How do you deal with your emotions when you lose a big hand? I get so emotional after a loss I play like a fool!

Some of our favorite PokerStars Women Team Pros weighed in with their answers.

Leo Margets: I never tilt after losing. The key is to not be results-oriented. If I conclude the play I made was correct, then nothing bothers me. Bad beats are part of the game. If I think I might have played the hand better, then I will write the sequence down and think about it after the tourney/session is over. That's much better than keeping your mind busy with a past hand while missing new information happening at the table and letting your emotions of regret influence your game!

Leo Margets 2.jpg

Vivian Im: Eat candy, listen to music; just think about something else. When I really can't control my emotions, I get up to get some fresh air and take a few minutes to cool down.

Fatima Moreira de Melo: That's just practice. In poker, you have to consider losing as a normal and big part of the game. What helped me was to realize that I had done everything I could at that moment to make the right decision and just accept the consequences.

Liv Boeree: Practice and experience. You WILL get better at dealing with losses and will progressively make fewer mistakes the more you learn. However, the important thing to remember is that making mistakes is GOOD. Without making them, and especially REALISING them, you will never improve. I've made numerous poker mistakes over the years I've been playing, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to improve that each one gives.

Victoria Coren-Mitchell: I make no emotional investments in poker hands at all. If I lose a big hand, I simply consider whether I made a mistake (in which case I'll try to avoid making it again), whether it's taught me something about my opponent (in which case I'll remember for future encounters with them), or whether I was just unlucky (in which case I can easily shrug it off). If you play badly after a loss, then you know you need to take a break and regain emotional control.

Natalie Hof: I have no problems with my emotions in poker, but to be honest, I used to tilt before. My advice to you is to quit for a few hands and go somewhere else to clear your mind. That will save you from making big mistakes.

Celina Lin: Losing a big hand can be difficult, especially if it eliminates you from a tournament or stacks you in a cash game. If you're more methodical, then you analyze the hand and think of a way to improve. If you get hit hard and feel like tilting, maybe you're better off stepping away and taking a little walk. I hate losing a big hand, whether it was a mistake or not. Shopping therapy works wonders, I tell you.

Celina Lin 6.jpg

So that wraps up our Ask the Pros series with some great questions from readers and some very thoughtful and useful answers from our pros. Thanks so much to the readers who submitted questions and to our pros for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer them.

Check out the other four articles in the series:
Episode 1: Poker as a virtue, not a vice
Episode 2: Mixing love and poker
Episode 3: Playing favorite hands
Episode 4: Dealing with sexism at the tables

To keep up with everything that's happening in the world of PokerStars Women, see our home page with links to the latest news and videos, along with our Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in PS Women