Get the right mindset for success at Poker!
1. Allowing previous hands to affect your thinking
Example: “It’s so overdue. I’m calling it off without the right odds because I’ve missed two of these flush draws already.”
One important fact to remember about poker is that luck has no memory. Just because two flops in a row have come out all hearts, doesn’t mean you should play your 8,4 of hearts because that suit is “hot.” The odds of three hearts hitting the flop are quite long, and they certainly haven’t got any shorter since three hands ago.
Sometimes players can go the opposite way with this thinking and say to themselves “I haven’t seen any 8’s or 4’s hit the flop in a long time. They must be due.”
Examine that thought closely. The word “due” suggests that something is “owed.” Luck has absolutely no concept of who is owed good luck or bad, or what cards will balance out things that have happened in previous hands.
2. Moving up in stakes to find players who will respect your raises
Example: “I need to find thinking players who can read boards and see when I’m representing strength.”
If you are the player who fires three barrels at an Ace high board, because your opponent didn’t 3 bet you pre, and so isn’t likely to have the A,K or A,Q that could feasibly be in your own range – and then you blow up because your opponent calls you down with A,3…You have a problem.
Contrary to what you might think, the problem isn’t that your opponents aren’t good enough to understand when they should fold; that’s a gift.
Your problem is that you don’t know how to unwrap it. Bad players often have imbalances. They call too much, or they fold too much.
As a general rule of thumb, keep bluffing the ones that always fold, and patiently value bet the ones that always call.
The last thing you want to do is move up in stakes to find players where you would need to do far more than just these two simple things in order to have an edge over them.
3. Over betting to avoid a bad beat
Example: “I need to get this guy out of the pot right now, before he outdraws me.”
It’s easy to think that when you’re confident that you are ahead, you should bet big to protect your hand against draws, but the truth is, you don’t need to overbet in these situations.
As long as you are charging your opponent the wrong price, you should be happy if they call and draw to their hand, regardless of what happens in the following moment. Overbetting feels safer, but it’s an illusion. Sometimes in poker, the price of getting it right, is to watch it go wrong.
Charging a slightly bad price and getting called, is much better than charging a severely bad price and watching your opponent fold every time.
When you bet, just think about getting worse hands to call for the wrong price, or getting stronger hands to fold. Value bet or bluff.
4. Playing well except when tired, angry, or wanting to gamble.
Example: “My best game is as good as anyone’s. I play no matter how I feel though, which is why I don’t make more money.”
Ultimately, your results will reflect your decision making in poker. The decisions you make while playing your best game aren’t the only ones that count. The human mind will go through different phases of activity and productivity based on tiredness, emotions, alcohol consumption, among other things.
If you think you play great when you’re on your A game, but then choose to play during your A,B,C, and D game – don’t expect your results to reflect your A game standards. They’ll reflect your C+ or B- standards.
5. Blaming bad luck for poor results
“Why do these donkeys keep outdrawing me? I’d make so much money if I had their luck.”
The number of great poker players who spend their time counting up the number of times their Aces got cracked this week? Zero.
If you waste time doing this, and you’re serious about being a better player, alter this way of thinking. Fluctuations in variance can elicit an emotional response of course – we’re only human.
Part of becoming better though, is to train your brain overcome negative feelings and regain your emotional equilibrium quickly. Be sure to spend your time wisely when you aren’t playing. Work on playing hands better, while you’re running good, and bad.
Article by Craig B.