The problem of maintaining psychological balance during a period of failure is familiar to every poker player. Someone even quits poker because of her – after all, the drawn-out black streak makes you seriously think about whether you are doing the right thing and whether it is worth the nerves.
Curious about what established poker pros think about this, CardPlayer journalist Craig Tapscott contacted three well-known regulars and asked them two identical questions. We’ve put together key information for you on the players who answered the questions and their answers – enjoy your reading!
Landon Tice – Cash Star and Successful MTT Schnick, 22
Young and successful American Landon “ItsAllOvaBabys” Tice became widely known in the poker community in 2020 after a podcast with Joe Ingram. Joe invited Tice to the podcast not only because they were friends – by the time they met, Landon had climbed the online cache limits so quickly that he had attracted the attention of seasoned professionals. Bill Perkins even had time to discuss the possibility of playing heads-up with him.
Landon’s path was this: in 12 months from 2019 to 2020, Landon climbed from NL2 to NL1K through constant training and grinding for 12-17 hours a day. After earning enough money to reduce the volume of the ice rink, Theis decided to try his hand at MTT. He started in the summer of 2020 at the WSOP Online with three Dipranes (including one final) with over $ 32K in prize money before taking a break to work on the game. Already in August, he started playing online on WPN, where at first he went into the red by $ 15K, but then he got used to it and gradually turned into a plus. By May 23, 2021, he played 418 MTT ABI $ 350 on the network, his profit is $ 15,474.
It is noteworthy that in November 2020 Tice tried his hand at offline MTT for the first time and immediately won $ 1.1K MSTP on DeepStack Extravaganza with a prize of $ 201,529. By May 2021, Landon has 11 ITM live MTTs with $ 268,378 in prize money.
Niall Farrell – grinder with 11 years of experience, 34 years
Truthful poker players with experience can easily recognize this player’s Scottish redhead from hundreds of others. From 2012 to 2020, Niall Farrell had only two years without winning an offline MTT, and online he wins titles at all and takes first places virtually every year. The list of his victories in live tournaments over the years is as follows:
- 2012 — NLH на PaddyPower Irish Poker Open (+$43K);
- 2013 — Isle of Man Cup на UKIPT (+$18,5K);
- 2014 — NLH Mega Stack на CPT Spring Showdown (+$18,9K) и Irish Open Mini на PaddyPower Irish Poker Open (+$19,4K);
- 2015 — Main Event EPT Malta (+$588,5K);
- 2016 — Main Event WPT Caribbean (+$335K);
- 2017 — High Roller WSOPE (+$867,9K);
- 2020 — Main Event Tallinn Summer Showdown (+$38K).
In total, from 2010 to 2020, Niall made it to the ITM live tournaments 143 times, receiving over $ 6M in prize money. Online his results are one and a half times more modest – $ 3.8M in 2K tournaments, but there are also notable victories among them. For example, in 2014, Farrell won the FTOPS Main Event at FullTiltPoker (+ $ 236K), and in 2016 and 2018 he won the SCOOP title at PokerStars (+ $ 275K).
Shannon Schorr – 15-year regular, 35
The American poker player Shannon Shorr is not very well known in the Russian community, although he has a lot of significant victories and drifts on his account. During his career, he managed to register 250 ITM in live tournaments with a total prize money of more than $ 8M, with only nine victories among them:
- 2006 and 2008 – 3 NLH tournaments at the Bellagio Cup (+ $ 1.4M);
- 2011 — Heads Up NLH на The Big Event (+$28K);
- 2013 — Six Max на PCA (+$160K):
- 2014 — Turbo 6Max на EPT Barcelona (+$149K):
- 2019 — Super Hyper Turbo на EPT Barcelona и Purple Chip Bounty 8 Max Semi Turbo WPT Borgata Poker Open (+$56K):
- 2021 — Deep Stack WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown (+$296,5K).
He was also successful online: for example, from 2008 to 2015 in the FTP room Shannon, under the nickname “BLUFFforRENT” he played 1,175 ABI $ 270 tournaments with a profit of $ 530K.
He is also known to be registered under the nicknames “basebal1b” at PokerStars and “aulophobia” at the WSOP com, but his progress is not known there.
What situations turned out to be a failure for you in poker and how did you manage to get out and get better at the game?
Landon Thays: I first encountered significant downswings while playing at NL200. I went down in dollars, but in EV I was up 30 buy-ins. A very tough experience – I had nothing to show but a yellow EV line going up, while my profit did not change.
I am very close to Joe Ingram, so in a difficult and unfamiliar situation I called him to discuss everything. I suddenly realized that someone can really make decent money at these limits. Joe told me not to worry and keep grinding – in time, everything will straighten out by itself. I sincerely trusted his advice and continued to actively play and study. It was about 1.5 years ago, but I still recall with discomfort the despair that overwhelmed me at that time. Of course, downswings still happen to me now, but the dollar amounts and the feeling are very different from that case.
I first experienced almost six-figure downswings when I started playing at higher stakes online and live – NL4K at Bellagio casinos, NL5K and NL10K online. Surprisingly, at the time, I felt like I was playing better than ever, thanks to the constant learning and development of the game. Unfortunately, sometimes the deck thought differently – for about a month I could not win a single all-in to save myself. It was very frustrating.
Then I went to the online MTT – grind and learned the game every day in order to recover the losses as soon as possible, and in the end I got back everything I lost. However, at the very beginning, I thought it would take me a year to get out of the hole I fell into. Fortunately, continuing to learn and improve step by step and making every effort, I managed it in 45 days. Right after that, I won the MSTP at the Venetian Casino and came out on top.
Shannon Shorr: There have been several periods in my career when I felt that I had lost my footing and watched in panic as I was losing my capital. From those cases, I learned an important lesson for myself: you should always play within the bankroll and accept the reality of the variance in MTT.
In the downswings, I also learned something interesting about myself: it was difficult for me to separate my personality from my results in poker, so I scolded myself most severely as if it was my personal fault. I realized that my “vision” was greatly narrowed – I was determined only to get out of the black stripe, and nothing else. This was very detrimental to the quality and results of the game, although it helped me to better understand myself and my weaknesses.
I now have over 10 years of meditation practice, regular exercise and proper nutrition behind me – I have found this to be very beneficial for building long-term resilience in a challenging business like poker.
Niall Farrell: During the downswing period, I prefer to take a step back and give a couple of eyes a second look at my performance. This way I try to make sure that negative variance does not seriously affect the way I play. It is very easy and quite human to change your game for the worse in times of failure. One of the best examples of avoiding these changes in my life is SCOOP at PokerStars. I won nothing in it for the first five years, but I approached it calmly and judiciously, saying to myself: “These are very valuable tournaments. I am a good player, I only need to control what I can control. ” And now I have two SCOOP titles and a significant profit on it.
The WSOP is also a good example. There, too, I played everything I could, in the first five years – this happens easily in kilopoles. Then in 2013 – 2018 I made three final tables, but I played in the series only because I was doing well at that time in poker. In 2017, I managed to win a bracelet in a $ 25K tournament at the WSOPE, and I also completed the final on Maine. Now I’m on the other side of the variance in the WSOP again, but that looks quite fair – looking at the payoffs I got from the old years, I admit the need to, shall we say, “pay” some of the WSOP fees for that great luck.
How do you deal with the emotional swing in poker?
Landon Thays: To better understand what emotional control costs me, I’ll start by admitting that I am extremely emotional when it comes to poker. The game means a lot to me. This is what I quit my studies and my regular job for. I do realize that I am addicted to poker and it hurts when I don’t get the results I expect.
At the beginning of my career, I was even more striving for the best results, which greatly influenced my emotions. Successful friends of mine who have been squeezing out of poker for more than 10 years say attitudes change over time – but that requires a lot of volume and experience. I admit that not feeling emotional while playing and seeing poker as a streak of hands has its advantages, but I like to feel pleasure and have an emotional experience as I play.
But I really became calmer and more stable in two years. It helped me to be able to forgive myself for mistakes and understand that poker is a game of distance, where you cannot do everything perfectly on a consistent basis. So the best thing I can do for myself is to accept the consequences of my actions and move on.
I remember going into a very aggressive bluff all-in on a straight bubble during a deep run in a $ 1.6K tournament. I ended up getting called and losing a bunch of chips, but I was content with the fact that I trusted myself and took an action that seemed to me to win a lot of EVs. Sometimes you don’t get the results you want, but the real pain is when you don’t take risks in situations that can work well.
I deal with some of the hardships after the fact, just spending time with my friends talking about giveaways and trying to learn as much as possible. Then I focus on the next aspect that I need to improve, be it MTT or cash games. Spending time away from your computer is another way to restore and maintain emotional balance. This is what I am doing now after a tough day, and having a community that really supports me makes the vacation all the more amazing.
Shannon Shorr: Mental toughness is all that is needed to stay focused in poker. After all, the game will constantly disappoint you and force you to go through tests. Deep breathing at the table helps me to maintain her firmness. It is also extremely important not to fall into the trap of previous hands, as mistakes can be very costly, especially when playing No Limit Hold’em.
I think striving to take care of yourself in your personal life also matters a lot. In my opinion, the best recommendation for poker players is to spend time with their emotions after the session and sort them out, instead of running away with the help of alcohol, sex, weed and other “entertainment”. It is worth writing down your thoughts and working them out. You experience a wide range of emotions every day and it is very helpful to understand them. This way you will be able to learn things that you can change to improve your game.
Niall Farrell: It is very important for me to feel comfortable at the limits being played. Because if everything is in order with your bankroll, then losing a little is not the end of the world. I think it comes with experience, mainly when you go through some serious downswings a few times. Mostly because you become calmer, knowing that you’ve done it before and will do it again. For example, I could take a short break from the game and go for a walk with friends or do something else, and then come back “hungry” and ready to haul.
Bad decisions are basically the only thing that turns me on today. Of course, I’ll have a 15 minute tantrum if I get two knockouts with a lot of equity, but after a little self-pity party (and a few beers) I’m fine again. You can only control what you can control, so it is pointless to surrender to such situations. If I fail a major tournament because of a mistake, I usually go straight to the pub and don’t think about it for a second. The next day, I’ll analyze my hand and hopefully get better. Nothing trains the mind better than a hangover lab.