Free article: Mind Games by Byron Jacobs + Special Offer
| Daniel Addelman
Consider the following scenario. One player opens pre-flop. You call, everyone else folds. The flop gives you something decent but not amazing. Villain bets and you call. The turn is a brick and Villain fires again. You call. The river bricks once more and Villain makes a further sizeable bet. Villain has three-barrelled you. Your hand is good enough to beat a bluff but will lose to any value hand. What do you do?
This is a situation where many players absolutely haemorrhage money. By now the pot is likely to be sizeable and the river bet will reflect this. Consistently calling and losing here is a very expensive bad habit.
One of the problems is that, for numerous psychological reasons, it’s quite difficult to fold. You liked your hand on the flop and nothing really changed on the turn or river. If the hand is now worthless, what does that say about your judgment on the flop?
There is also a tendency for the human mind to be somewhat suspicious. We hate the thought of someone ripping us off and if they are going to bet all three streets they damn well better show us a strong hand. This “monkey brain” approach may serve us well in evolutionary terms but it’s not much use at the poker table. “I was suspicious and wanted to see what they had” is not a great reason for chucking a load of chips into the pot when there is almost no chance you have the best hand.
Finally, the action at the poker table often pushes tender psychological buttons. When an opponent keeps betting in the face of your calls it can feel as though you’re being bullied. As we all know, you have to stand up to bullies and you can’t do that by folding. Determined to demonstrate you are no pushover you “teach them a lesson”, make the call and they show you the powerful hand they almost inevitably had.
Mind games are woven into the fabric of poker and any player who comes to the table with psychological baggage will struggle. How to deal with this?
You could do a lot worse than read the advice in the two books Positive Poker and Peak Poker Performance by Dr. Patricia Cardner. Dr. Cardner provides performance coaching to some of the biggest names in poker. She teaches advanced psychological techniques and strategies honed from years of work as a psychology professor and licensed therapist. Following the advice in these books will ensure you play the best poker you
Mike Sexton once asked Chip Reese, “The guys you play against are tough. What separates you from them?” Chip replied, “You’re right, Mike. They are tough. In fact, when they play their A game, I’m really no better than they are. The difference is that they also have a C and D game, whereas I don’t. They become weak players when they steam and just about all of them do. My edge is that I don’t steam.” (Life’s a Gamble, D&B 2016).
If you’ve ever wondered if there is value to be had in working on your mental game, that should provide the answer.
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