Forced plays and unrealistic goals

When I sit down at a poker table I expect to win. As a matter of fact I expect to win to an extent that I will be hugely disappointed if I don’t, and I expect to win a lot every time. Some people call that a winning mentality, I call it a flaw in my play and I’ll tell you why I feel that way. It is terrible if you sit down at a table and expect to loose. A wise man once said that he had never seen a player who expected to loose be disappointed.

I agree

I couldn’t agree more. But the other way around is almost just as dangerous. If you expect to win a lot of money you are inclined to force plays that maybe should not have been. In a tight aggressive game plan your KK suddenly makes you loose a lot of chips because you thought this was the hand you were going to capitalize on and you played it bad somewhere along the way. Then when you get AQ next deal you force a lot of big raises and bets into the pot because now you are behind your game plan after losing that KK before, and you want to make up for it.

If that one didn’t win either you will be inclined to force other plays to make up for lost grounds or even be on the brink of a costly tilting experience. Great expectations can be to your disadvantage and when it is one of those days your expectations could cause you to throw a mountain of chips away in a vain attempt to cover your loses not to mention the fact that a lost table image (from losing hand after hand) is usually never a good thing online, especially in a limit game where you often prefer people to fold before showdown since most of the chips will be in the pot at that point anyway.

These days I am trying to adjust my expectations before I sit down to play. I have given a lot of consideration to what exactly should be my goals and what I’ve come up with is this: “Winning a lot of money” is a wrong approach. To be a winning poker player is to make a profit long term, so expecting to win every session can be dangerous and might lead to the hazards I talked about earlier. Instead I will narrow it down to “Winning”. By leaving out the “a lot of money” part I try to forget about the chips involved and the value of the bets I have to put in.

What I focus on

Instead I am focusing on the hands I get and let the cards do the talking. By concentrating on the cards and winning hands I assume the money will come along the way. This is a good time again to remind you never to look at the value of the chips you are about to throw into the pot, if you got a good enough hand, go ahead no matter if you are playing 1-2 or 20-40, otherwise fold. Your pre game table selection tactics should have ensured that you are on the right table regarding stakes and your bankroll already.

Of course “Winning” is too simple a mantra to base your session on so I’ll also include another one: “Play your A-game”. Remember all the things you have learned, experienced and know about every aspect of the game. Several of the pros you see on television got exactly the same mantra and they are usually good at reminding themselves of it when things go bad in a session. Play the A-game all the time, and when things go sour –as they sometimes do- find your way back to your A-game.

Do not count on winning money. Play your best game, concentrate on the hands and odds and eventually you will be the one making a profit, it might not be in the session you got going right now, but you will end up having more sessions with wins than losses in the long run and that is what poker is all about. That is what makes a good poker player stand out from the crowd.

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