There are always moments of doubt when I run a race.
They come when my breath can't match the pace of my feet, and my body screams for more oxygen to power them. They come when I'm facing a long hill, and I wonder if keeping such a demanding pace is really a good idea. They come when I'm not feeling good, and I wonder if I need to just quit.
I don't exactly live for these moments - no runner really does - but they're the kind of struggles you have to face if you want to complete most races. And the one thing I always tell myself to get through those rough moments is it's a long race.
Moments of doubt, struggles and even times you want to quit are all part of any long challenge.
That, surprisingly, is also what got my through the worst losing streak I've endured in poker.
It lasted months, and I blamed it on many things, and they all played a part. I had to learn to adjust to the evolving aggressive nature of today's online poker game. In any ring game I'd play on PokerStars, I'd get put to the test lots of times, and many times i failed because I didn't believe in my own tight style and shoved at the wrong times. I also would play while frustrated, or I'd play to chase losses, or I'd play simply because I thought I had to rather than because I wanted to.
But the biggest cause to the streak, I believe, was my insistence on ending it.
Every time I recorded yet another losing session, I'd shake my head, mope and try again tomorrow. I wasn't in the right frame of mind to play. I'd be inpatient, let missed draws eat me alive and, worst of all, make bad calls in the hopes of finally winning some money.
Patience used to be my best trait, and I lost it.
What I forgot to tell myself was poker really is one long session, especially if you play cash games, as I do. I forgot to tell myself that I was still a winning player in my lifetime, even if I wasn't for this year. I forgot to realize that I should have expected a change in fortune after it was, to be honest, so good for so long.
I've never believed in real losing streaks. It seems strange to think that otherworldly forces are conspiring to straight your sets, flush your straights and destroy your overpairs. Sure, we all run bad every once in a while, but it's our actions that determine what happens after we have a losing session.
You can either continue with the bad habits, or tell yourself that things will get better, as they always will in every session, and breathe deep, just as you would through a bad mile up a steep hill.