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Battling variance in poker: how a BBZ student defeated his downswing ($135K)

Battling variance in poker: how a BBZ student defeated his downswing ($135K)

Luck plays an important part in poker’s popularity. It’s what brings people back to the tables time and time again, even those who haven’t studied a day in their lives. Anyone can win on any given day and poker’s all the better for it.

Many of today’s best poker players will admit to enjoying some good fortune at the beginning of their poker journey. It’s that early run good that spurred them on to poker success like a six-foot-tall 13-year-old might be encouraged to play basketball. Positive reinforcement early on–a big score, in poker’s case–drives the player to continue working hard.

That’s exactly what happened to Taylor “TG w/the Chips” Grassmick, a 27-year-old project manager who lives in Colorado. He first began taking poker seriously in 2019, playing “super low stakes” on Ignition ($3-10 SNG’s & MTT’s). “I’d come home every day and play after work,” he tells us. “I knew it was something I had the potential to be great at if I learned all the ins and outs.”

Before he could do that, however, he started putting up incredible results for such a green player. He won $6K in a live tournament in January 2020, won an ACR high roller for $36K, and had two more $28K scores within a two-week period in the fall of 2020. “I was up over $70K on the year in only my second year playing,” he says. “I really felt like I could take on anyone.”

But no matter how good you are or how hard you work, you’re going to suffer a downswing at some point. It could go on for a couple of months, it could go on for a couple of years. In poker, running bad is unavoidable.

Grassmick’s confidence, combined with a lousy run of luck, led to his downfall. “I decided to play extremely aggressive bankroll management and got burned. Over the next six months, I ended up completely broke.”

But during the downswing, Grassmick decided to settle in and finally learn those ins-and-outs. He began studying with BBZ Poker and other poker training tools, fine-tuning the weak areas of his game. He became a better player than ever but still couldn’t overcome the variance.

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“I went back to grinding the same stakes I started at and was having a hard time even beating those smaller games,” he says. “This was the most mentally challenging time of my career. I wondered if I was ever actually a winning player or if I was just getting lucky the whole time. Variance can do things to your mind that no person could ever do.”

So, what do you do when you’re in the grip of a brutal downswing? Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond’s first tip is to study, study, and study some more.

“I study a lot and there’s a reason for it,” says BBZ. “The biggest thing you can do when you’ve had a horrible day and you’re going through a downswing is to go to sleep. Wake up. Study for an hour or two. Then play your next session knowing that you’re better than you were yesterday when you lost.”

Don’t become complacent if you then have a good session either. You’ve got to keep up with your study, win or lose.

“Today I am a stronger player than I was yesterday and for that reason, I deserve to win more often than I deserved to yesterday,” BBZ continues. “[By studying], You’ve earned the peace of mind you get knowing you’re closer to the other side of the downswing.”

That’s exactly what Grassmick did.

“I studied harder and harder,” he says. “I’d wake up at 4 am, three hours before work, and start running solvers, watching BBZ training videos, and I committed to my mindset by working out and meditating.”

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Having run bad for most of 2021, Grassmick felt like he was gaining traction. Then a couple of weeks ago, he woke up on a Sunday with the intention to grind. “I just had a feeling I was going to have a good day,” he remembers.

He went to play Day 2 of a live tournament and got 14th out of 477 runners. He then entered the Ignition Millions on his phone, having got a free ticket as a deposit bonus. “I one-tabled it for the rest of that day while doing other things and ended up playing until 1:30 am and winning the whole thing.”

Grassmick binked the biggest weekly online tournament in the USA for $135,027.

“It still doesn’t feel real after everything I’ve been through mentally the last nine months, constantly wondering when it would turn around,” he says. “I’m really grateful to have persevered through the tough times, and if I didn’t love the game so much I’m unsure if I would have.”

We sat down for a chat with Grassmick to discuss his incredible result, the hardships which preceded it, and how he came swinging out his downswing with the help of BBZ Poker. You can read the rest of the interview below.

BBZ Blog: At what point did you realise you needed help with your poker game?

Taylor “TG w/the Chips” Grassmick: Since the start, I’ve been trying to learn from people who have been playing the game for a while and know what they’re doing. I started off watching vlogs, moved to training sites, and then graduated to BBZ, which I believe was the most helpful in helping me compete with great players.

Six-figure scores are so rare in online poker. How did that event go for you and how did it feel when it was over?

It went surprisingly smooth. Over the last nine months, it felt like every big spot never went my way, but this time I was never worried when I was all in. Throughout the tournament, I got it in three times bad and ended up hitting cards to stay alive. It felt like there was nothing I could do wrong.

When did things start to feel real?

I realized it was a real spot when I was 1st with 18 people left. I thought ‘oh shit, is this actually happening?’. I ended up coming into the final table 2/9 and just dominated it. It felt like I made almost no mistakes, and watching Jargo [“bungakat” Alaväli] crush final tables on Twitch really taught me how to navigate spots.

When we got heads up and I’d locked up $94K I jumped out of my bed and was going crazy, then I remembered I was playing heads-up for more than $40K so I better focus. I took advantage of a passive opponent and ended up taking it down.

You posted about how you’ve dealt with brutal variance throughout your poker journey. Could you tell me about that and how you’ve overcome it?

All year I have been wondering when it would turn around and if I was even a good player. There were several days I thought I had just gotten lucky all last year and this bad run was truly reflective of the player I am. It’s kind of crazy how one score can change that in the mind of yourself and everyone around you.

What advice would you give to someone in the middle of a downswing?

Study and use this as a chance to really polish up your game so you’re ready when variance turns back on your side. I remember hearing Phil Galfond say: “At some point, you will run worse than you ever thought was possible”. That’s what I’ve just come out of and my prize for battling through it was a six-figure score.

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What led you to BBZ and what BBZ products did you use?

BBZ’s YouTube content is what originally caught my eye, then I watched all of Apestyles and Jargo’s Twitch streams and saw how they navigate. I really think those two guys are two of the best in the game. I bought the Intro to Quantitative Videos, which I really believe contains some of the best fundamental understanding out there, especially for the price point. I also have the BBZ and Apestyles bundles. I have learned so much from both of them on how to approach spots.

How has BBZ helped you improve?

I’ve become more aggressive. BBZ has helped expand my mindset so I can think through spots more deeply and I’m able to range where I am and where my opponent is. Having the understanding that I had to dedicate myself to studying as much as playing has been pivotal.

What would you say to anyone considering studying with BBZ?

As far as training goes BBZ Poker has some of the best knowledge in the industry from proven winners, and they give it to you at a very affordable price point for any player. It’s dollar for dollar the best training product on the market.

What’s next for you?

This is the very start of a big upswing for me. I know how much work I’ve put in and I really feel like I can compete with the great players. I’m going to continue moving up the success ladder and take down some more big tourneys so people see that TG w/the Chips means business.

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