It is difficult to escape from your own prejudices or thoughts. We transferred to poker the eight unfounded aspects of psychology when playing that according to experts can make you worse when playing poker.
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- The basic rule of the first impression (feelings)
Apparently, people do not perceive the total of the experience, the sum of all lived, but the average of how it was at its peak (e.g. pleasant or suffered) and how it ended. This point has a direct correlation with poker. Imagine that you are very lucky in the last major hands of a cash game, you leave the table thinking that you have played really well.
If you have been losing for most of the cash game and you are lucky enough to defeat your opponent with AJ> QQ, this does not indicate that your game is solid. Interpreting this rule from the point of view of a tournament, we could take as an example that you do a hero call that offers you a good pot, but little by little you lose all your chips for being unable to defend your blinds, besides making some mistake fundamental.
Making big winning moves in poker is very fun and makes you feel good, but you cannot judge your session based on a hand. Be honest when you analyse your session, even when you earn money you should be able to see the mistakes and inconsistencies in your game quickly.
- The fallacy of the player
Tending to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality these do not change, remain the same. This may be the most relevant point for poker players since it is completely related to the aspect of the game.
Most of the players are probably familiar with the concept of the player’s fallacy, mainly due to having had a terrible experience with some decision or style of play in the past, if this happens, it does not mean that you should stop taking the same decision or play in the same way.
For example, we can think of a pair of tens, this is a good hand, but it can be beaten. If on two consecutive occasions your dices are defeated by JT, this does not mean you should stop playing these. You need to critically analyse and evaluate each play regardless of the final result. If the decision is correct, you must continue acting the same even though it has not gone well a couple of times.
- Illusion of control
There is a tendency to overestimate the influence of our decisions on other external factors. This happens a lot in poker. We tend to think that we have absolute control over the development of the game when we play poker, forgetting that (in the short term) luck is a really essential element.
In many occasions you can lose without it being absolutely your fault. Sometimes, we even try to justify our losses in a session by highlighting a diffuse abstract game so we can sleep well at night. The reality is that sometimes we just had bad luck. It is necessary to go ahead and avoid worrying about something normal.
The problems can come when trying to correct problems that really do not exist.
Even the best players in the world have had times when they have lost money, even the biggest have losses, including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and the other top players.
Chance also makes us win sometimes, not because we have everything “under control” and because all our decisions have been correct, but because we have been lucky. If you want to be successful in poker, you must accept that you do not have control of all the results, that in a tournament or in a session the importance of luck is very great.
- Focus on the result
The tendency to judge a decision by its outcome rather than by the quality of the movement at the time it was taken. This point is closely related to poker and is similar in some way to the previous one: the illusion of control.
In 2006, Jamie Gold took the victory in the main event of the WSOP (and the 12 million dollars) using an unusual strategy in which he often told his rivals what cards he had (although he lied on some occasions).
Most professional players do not find this decision as a successful strategy.
Since then, Gold has had very little success in the poker world, except for having played some free tournaments. Even he himself has admitted that he is not one of the best poker players in the world despite having achieved a record victory. Nor were the professional players seen changing completely their style of play to try to emulate Gold.
This is the reason why it is important to avoid focusing on the results in poker. In the first thing you should set is in the process and the results (always in the medium to long term).
- Have a selective perception
The tendency for expectations to affect perception. This can also be taken to poker, although less directly than in the other previous concepts. Basically, the idea behind selective perception is that you can stay too attached to some hands or decisions that have worked for you in the past.
For example, a pair of kings as the starting hand is a really strong play, but this does not mean that you have to bet on each of the streets if there is an ace on the flop (or clear options of colour or straight). This is a very obvious example, but it is possible that you have attachment to a specific hand (let’s say couple of nines) because you have taken a big pot with her.
Once you have won an important hand with a pair of nines, you may ignore the signals that show you overuse this hand, that you risk too much with it based on a single performance.
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