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Poker Mental Game & Planning

What Is the Biggest Mindset Flaw with Poker Players

1,861 Views on 31/5/23

Which mindset flaw is most likely to leave a player screaming in anguish?

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Keeping your mindset in tip-top condition is a prerequisite condition for success at the higher levels of poker. Without feeling your best throughout your sessions there are just too many potential catastrophes waiting to trip you up.

But which mindset flaw is most likely to leave a player screaming in anguish? There are many to choose from but in our opinion there is one that affects recreational players more than any other.

Being results-oriented!

Complex Issue

Variance is understood by all poker players, even if massive misjudged in many cases, but this still doesn’t stop the constant stream of bad beat stories from irritating anybody unfortunate enough to be in earshot.

This mindset flaw is more complex than it sounds. There are many ways it can affect a player and ruin their session.

First, understand that when facing a slew of lost pots, many with your opponent getting seriously lucky, it can lead to a player becoming gun shy. They lose confidence in themselves, mostly unfairly, and start to deviate from a normal playing strategy.

This normally happens in a couple of different ways. One is that the player will tighten up considerably, only being prepared to build a parge pot if they have a nutted hand. The other is that they go on tilt, playing in a wild way that is certain to cost money in the long run.

The Mental Game

Being results-oriented can also lead to a player being too hard on themselves. Bad beats come in clusters and a spate of them in a single session can have them blaming themselves even though they know deep down that they made the right play.

You must learn how to be critical of yourself but also fair at the same time.

Poker players need to view mistakes as a tool for improvement. After all, if you never spot when you make a mistake, how on earth do you expect to be able to plug leaks in your game? Each mistake you find is an opportunity for improvement and growth as a player.

The mental game is mandatory study material today. No doubt about it. There is much more to learn than just not being results-oriented. The adult learning model detailed in Jared Tendler’s excellent books the Mental Game of Poker 1 &2 is a priceless gift for those players who don’t know how to go about improving their skills.

The advice on mindset is a treasure trove of information that will have you playing your sessions with a serene mind, unaffected by what happens.

Another tip for avoiding mindset issues is to keep sessions short. Tiredness affects everybody and even with the best will in the world, it can be difficult to keep on an even keel when feeling exhausted. You also won’t be able to play your A-game by the end of a session that has gone on for too long.

If you have mindset issues it might be worth playing for smaller stakes. This definitely takes some pressure off, and if you’re prone to being results-oriented the money lost to bad beats won’t hurt nearly as much.

The last tip for those players who can’t help but react to bad beats is to review those hands and consider the equities involved. If you truly were the victim of a bad beat, you can console yourself with the knowledge that you actually made money in the world of expected value. This little crutch should give you a step up when it comes to conquering any issues on that score.


Mark Patrickson

Mark Patrickson is a professional cash game player grinding stakes up to 100nl 6 Max NL Hold'em13 years experience of poker, across MTT SnG and cash, FL PL NL.Currently living in South East Asia and trying to make it back to mid-stakes befo ... Read More


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