Being Results Oriented in Poker

Recently I’ve been thinking about a very common problem among poker players: being results oriented.

And I’m even referring to the most common type of results-oriented thinking, which is letting individual results of big all-ins affecting your future decisions. (Have you ever heard someone ask something like “should I wait until I have only top set to get it in because I always end up losing with AA?” or boldly declare “I’m going to muck my KK preflop because the first raiser always has AA”)

Instead of this, I’m talking about a different breed of being results oriented. Players often get too focused on the money in their bankroll, especially as they’re unlocking bonuses. I remember running into this problem a lot when I was just getting started in poker.

I distinctly remember one particular time when I was running bad and I caught myself having some very unproductive thoughts. I sat down to play a four-table no limit poker session and hit a good run of cards. After only about 75 hands I found myself up three buy-ins. I looked at the cashier, saw where I was, and stopped, effectively ending my downswing. While this might be good from a psychological standpoint, the bottom line was I had selected three good tables with some juicy fish and loose-passives, and I stopped playing. While I wasn’t guaranteed to keep profiting, it was a good situation for me to be in, so I should have kept grinding.

Similarly, when I had a big losing session, I would sometimes get worried about how it was going to affect my lifetime or month profits, instead of playing my same steady game.

What I ended up doing to help this problem was simply remind myself that I was using proper poker bankroll management so I wouldn’t go busto. If I was indeed on a downswing, it might not make for a pretty cashier tab or monthly graph, but it wouldn’t harm my overall success. Using Poker Tracker and Holdem Manager, I always made sure review my sessions to make sure the big losses were indeed just short term variance and not poor play. And alas, it was sometimes the latter, but what can you do…

Another good technique you can use to help include is setting aside a set amount of hands you are to play in a given day. Then when you reach that number you halt your session, regardless of whether you are up or down. This way, you make your decision before you sit down and won’t get tempted to justify to yourself why it would be best to hang on and try to make back your losses.

Whatever type of poker we play, we need to remember that cash games are really just one long session.

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