The Leftover Experience of Losing In Poker

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Losing stretches and big losing days can sit with you for a long time. They impact sleep, relationships and your enjoyment of life in general. Is there a more effective approach than just “dealing with it”? That’s what is explored in this article and episode of The Losing Stress podcast.

Either watch, listen or read below:

[00:00] Hello guys, it’s Chiggs. I’m back and in this episode, I’m going to pick up where I left off from the last one, which is all about losing in Poker. And in this one, I want to talk about specifically, the experience of losing and how it sticks with you.

[00:16] So, I’m going to be approaching this in a very honest way, in a way that probably isn’t discussed in the culture of Poker, which is all about the winning and losing of money. And the winning and losing in general and the kind of the rush and the kind of the turmoil and all the emotional swings that go with it. And just the whole culture of Poker in general; stepping out of that altogether and seeing if we can really see the mechanics of the mind at work when you do lose. And what’s actually taking place.

How Losing in Poker Affects The Mind

[00:45] So, let’s explore what happens after you do lose.

Say you have a day where you lose a lot or you lose a big pot or you have an experience in poker that really sticks with you.

Then let’s explore how this actually sticks with you exactly.

[01:00] So, you have a bad day then you can observe how this creates a disturbed state of mind where afterwards, you find it difficult to say, actually, enjoy doing anything you’re doing for the rest of your day. So, it might be interacting with your friends, you just can’t quite enjoy it in the same way. Or interacting with your partner or your children. Any kind of interaction with people or anything else you do is difficult to connect to as there is this cloud or fog over it where you can’t quite enjoy it in the same way. And your mind keeps going back to what happened before.

[01:35] Essentially, your mind is clinging onto and bringing back this experience that’s happened. Essentially, this dead thing, because it’s happened in the past, and it keeps bringing it back up over and over again such that you can’t really enjoy living which is something that only happens in the moment.

Losing in Poker can Affect Sleep

[01:52] And further to this, it even carries on. It often carries on into your sleep. And when you wake up the next day, it is very often the first thing that you think about. Then you go back into the cycle of thinking about it and creating those emotions where you’re trying to figure it out.

The experience is being re-lived over and over again through your thoughts.

[02:17] But the issue with this, when seen clearly, is that you’re stuck in the past. And all thinking is doing is applying and adding to a filter that creates a bigger distortion from what actually happened.

The Limitations of Self-Analysis

[02:29] Essentially, your mind feels like it can analyse its way out of what happened and really figure out what went wrong because you had this experience that felt very painful. And so, the mind is trying to figure out, “How can I not have this experience again?”

[02:47] But the thing you’ve really got to ask yourself is, “Does this approach work?”

Because what really happens with this approach?

The experience sticks with you and you end up thinking about it over and over.

And so, is it possible for this experience not to stick with you? And for you to be able to enjoy the rest of your day and not have something that happens in poker impact the rest of your life?

[03:14] Now, when I say the rest of your life, I’m not trying to make it so dramatic, but I’m more specifically talking about that suffering period or the period where you can’t quite let go of what’s happened. And so it’s affecting your ability to enjoy your life.

This period can last for a number of hours and even for a day or two.

Exploring a Fresh Approach to Losing at Poker

[03:36] So, what I’m going to delve into now, as I said earlier, isn’t talked about or is part of the poker culture in general. And so, when you listen to the suggestions that I’m making, then you might realize when you hear them that you have a perception to them; where you essentially are possibly rejecting what I’m saying based of your own thinking and your own cultural background.

[03:59] So try to listen to what I’m saying with an open mind; that is with a mind that hasn’t made up its mind that is willing to learn about new things. Because what I’ve been doing since leaving Poker, which I think has been incredibly beneficial to actually explore this stuff, is I spend a lot of time really delving into how the mind works; doing courses, reading books. And the most important thing is observing how my own mind works and also exploring and observing how other people’s minds have worked around Poker.

[04:36] And so, getting back to not carrying on the experience; what can we do, say we noticed that our mind keeps coming back to what is disturbed about what happened?

Then rather than delve into any kind of distraction like drinking, watching TV, taking drugs, etc. What can we actually do?

Because we know that these things don’t quite work.

And we also know that playing these situations out in our minds doesn’t work either.

[05:05] So, why not explore, letting these emotions and the experience fully play out; i.e. can we have a creative and unfiltered outlet to fully express our emotions, whether they be anger, hurt, etc. or whatever the label actually is, because that doesn’t actually matter, and just express them!

Something Practical For Losing at Poker

[05:29] And the two approaches, which I believe I mentioned in the last podcast, which I think are incredibly beneficial, which I picked up from reading Monkey Traps; and that is first of all, is just to write. To write down unfiltered exactly what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling negative thoughts towards the person that you lost to, then just express them; just write it all out, swear, whatever; just write it down. Writing it down physically is better than say tapping on your phone. But if that’s the thing that’s only available to you then, then do that.

[06:03] Writing is great because it doesn’t actually necessarily interfere with anything. You don’t necessarily need space to be able to do it. You can just do it in a way that’s even around people because you can just tap away on your phone and people don’t necessarily have to know about it. It can be a bit discreet.

[06:21] Ideally, you’d like to have a pen and paper because you could just write it all out and then take that bit of paper, you don’t need to look at it again, and just crumple up, rip it, and just know that it is now expressed.

[06:34] Or if you have a bit of space for yourself and you’re aware that there’s a lot of pent up frustration and anger within you, which in itself requires a lot of alertness in being able to recognise that– a lot of intelligence– then you can express that in a way that is physical.

So, punching pillows and screaming into a pillow.

These things sound ridiculous when you first hear about them, but until you actually experience going through the benefits of just releasing that energy, then you realize how beneficial it actually is.

Letting Go of The Experience

[07:10] But like I said, for you to take this seriously, you’ve got to really see and observe clearly and honestly that the residue of this experience that you have in Poker does sit with you. And so, you’ve got to see that it’s important for you to essentially let go.

[07:27] So those are two approaches you can take when you realize that your mind is affected by what has actually happened. And like I said, that takes intelligence in the first place. And we can also see if it’s possible to explore this even further.

[07:41] Is it possible to be so alert that we can apply and recognize this in real-time, in the moment? And this is something that I’m really incredibly interested in myself. And it’s something that is not as simple as carrying out the suggestions above or simply just meditating for, however, many minutes or hours a day. It’s about really understanding the whole of the mind and being alert to how it’s always applying a filter to all of your experiences.

Understanding the Mind and its Applications to Poker

[08:17] And this is important in Poker; you might be reading this and thinking, “This is getting a bit too deep”. But this cannot be ignored simply because every session that you play is played within the context of your life.

So, experiences that you’ve recently stay with you and then you go with these perceptions, with this state of mind, into playing.

[08:40] And so, as mentioned in the last podcast, your life outside of Poker has a real impact on when you do go into play. Because it is a mental game. And so, being in a “right mind-set” which if you– I’ll put that in quotes because a lot of people out there are telling you what kind of mind-set you should have when you do play Poker, but as you approach it more you realise it’s not necessarily based on what anybody else says but it’s all about having a mind that is clear and focused.

[09:15] Now, that might sound a bit contradictory because I just said that you need a mind that’s clear and focused, but you can observe this in yourself. You would know if you’ve been playing Poker for a while, what determines whether you have a good session or good period in general and what kind of mind or state of mind you had for that to happen.

Relying on Confidence or the Concept of Control

[09:37] So, you may be thinking it was when you’re feeling really confident, when things in your life are going well, when Poker was going well; that obviously had an effect on your sessions and how well Poker was going. But can we step outside of that and see that really, we don’t have complete control over exactly how our life is going.

[09:55] And so, when you start to realise this and see how the mind is clinging on to your recent experiences, whether it be subconsciously or unconsciously, whatever label we want to put onto it, you can observe that it is happening, then you start to realise that the mind is continually recording all experiences as memory and that is sitting with you in some way.

[10:20] And so, is it possible to operate in a way where the mind isn’t continually recording everything and that’s when things get very deep and that’s what I’m exploring now with how the mind applies filters to all experiences.

[10:35] And I’ll appreciate– I don’t want to lose any of you guys or go too deeply into this topic, especially because it’s something that I’m quite fresh and new to and so I will be exploring this and be talking about this in a podcast further down the line.


[10:50] And so, just to sum up; in this episode we’ve talked about how your experiences in Poker sit with you and create a fog or a cloud over how you enjoy your life outside of Poker for the hours or even days outside of what’s happened. And so, we’ve explored, “Is it possible to not have this play out in our minds so that we can go ahead and enjoy the rest of our time?”

[11:17] We explored two different ways of completely playing out the experience. So, writing in an unfiltered fashion, with all your emotions and thoughts just expressed. And also to express physically, with for e.g. punching a pillow or whatever kind of physical way that doesn’t do any damage to any real property or people; where you can just express those emotions: the frustration and anger that’s within you and simply release it.

[11:48] And the last thing we talked about was how the mind actually works and how it clings to all experiences, especially those that are emotionally charged.

[11:58] And this is what we’re going to explore and look into in the forthcoming episodes of The Losing Stress Podcast. So, guys, I’m going to leave it there. Hopefully, this has been useful for you guys and an honest and objective look into what’s taking place when we do lose in Poker. Take care guys. I will speak against soon.