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Posted February 6, 2015 by Scott Gerhardt in Card Games

Warming Up The Cooler

It’s a fact in gaming, and gaming of all shapes and sizes – sometimes you can’t win.  Maybe its bad luck, sometimes it’s just variance, sometimes it’s a lack of understanding of the game’s format, or one of a bunch of other factors.  The truth is most everyone is going to have to deal with it.  I personally have been in a frigid cooler since Mexico City.  I 3-0’d my first day 2 pod, but went 0-3 in the second, and including that have lost 12 consecutive draft matches as of this writing.  If you’re a competitive player, this will put you on tilt.  I want this article to serve two purposes.  First of all, I’m going to tell you how I dealt with it, which isn’t necessarily the best way, and secondly I want you to go into the comments and tell me how you deal with this when it happens.

So for me, I fancy myself a very good limited magic player – one of the better ones in the world.  I have an incredible record at limited GPs and tend to do very well at other limited events.  So when the one thing I think I do well all of a sudden puts me cold as ice, I find it amazingly frustrated.  How do you deal with it?  My initial reaction is just pure rage.  I absolutely can fly off the handle.  Often internally, but sometimes it boils outward and make me look like a real jackass.  I recently had a stream I simply had to stop because my emotional side was getting the better of me.  But turning off the stream doesn’t make you a winner – I lost another one right after that.  So how do you deal?  Do you step away?  Do you pound away until you prove you can win? Do you try to find distraction with something else?  I guess my solution has been a combination of all of those, though not overly successful.  One thing I have learned is that coolers produce coolers.  When you’re losing, you tend to keep losing because you’re not in a good mental state and you then start to make more emotional decisions playing and they often can hurt you.  It’s okay to go one deep once you feel you’ve entered a cooler, but you have to know when to step back.  I don’t.  One thing I plan to do is institute “cooler” rules that I am required to stick by.  One a certain criteria is met, I am done for X period of time, assuming I have the luxury to do so (not marathoning for some reason).  When I’m away, I try to do something constructive.  It might be progressing in a different game, household chores, or anything that can make me feel accomplished.  Sometimes it’s just listening to music, which can calm me down quite a bit.  No matter what, it need to be something away from that one game that gives you a positive experience.  Another is “self medicating”.  Each medication can be different.  For some, it’s music like I mentioned above.  Sometimes it’s food.  I find I play very poorly on an empty stomach, and filling said stomach can really make a big difference in my play.  This also goes for major tournaments!  Some people may have prescription or herbal remedies that help.  Always condoning things legal with your local government, try taking something.  I personally have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, so those associated medications can help a lot, but definitely not for everyone.  Regardless of what it is, find your thing and run with it.  Clear your head and remember that if you’re a good player, a series of bad results doesn’t change that – it just means you’re experiencing statistical variance and it will happen from time to time.

So what about you?  When you hit a cooler of sorts, what’s your remedy to get back on track?  Let me know in the notes.  Also make sure you check out our twitch stream where you can watch me try to break a cooler, or occasionally lose it when I can’t (something I’m told is highly entertaining, though at that point NSFW).  Find us at twitch.tv/thegamersdome.

Until next time, keep playing everyone.

Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here