I don’t like folding. It annoys me. There are times where I hit the fold button and I can literally feel the tension building up in my upper back and shoulders. What I have come to learn is that this is not remotely conducive to being a winning player at the micros. Of course, we all already knew that.
I recently played a hand where I raised the river on a 3 flush board with a full house and got 3bet. Before I made the raise I told myself that he would call with a flush but, if he raises, he's got the nuts. Easy fold. But something strange happened. Once I got raised, I managed
to convince myself that he could still have the flush after all. Or, perhaps he was just messing with me. I called. He had it.
I ended the session shortly after and whilst just sitting and staring in a bit of daze I think it finally hit me. If I'm ever going to be any good at this game and achieve my goals I need to get to the bottom of why it is that I still can't find the fold button.
So, as I sat there at my desk, I set out to do some soul searching. To answer the question, why can't I fold?
I thought about why it was that I resent folding so much and wrote them down:
- I don’t like the thought that I might be folding the best hand.
- I don’t like giving up the money that I've put into the pot.
- I don’t like the thought of being exploited or ran over.
- I often don't know whether there are worse hands in villain’s range that he would raise for value.
That's basically it. They are the reason that I struggle to find the fold button when I know I should. They are the thoughts that pop into my head when I know I should be folding.
What struck me was that they are all, with one exception, completely irrational. I realized that I already had the knowledge and understanding within me as to why these thoughts are, for the most part, nonsense. Maybe putting it down in writing would help my brain understand why these thoughts are irrational.
I don’t like the thought that I might be folding the best hand
How many times have I been raised and convinced myself that maybe I have the best hand, maybe he’s bluffing? How many times have I called only to see that I didn’t have the best hand, he wasn’t bluffing?
Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results, yet I continue to get raised and continue to make the call, clinging to the hope that hey, he could be bluffing. And I continue to lose. I once heard BalugaWhale say something along the lines of “they’re not bluffing, but if they are, you’ll find out soon enough” and it’s completely true. 9 times out of 10 at the micros they’ll show the bluff and even if they don’t, it will become pretty obvious pretty quickly. Just fold and wait for a better spot.
I don’t like giving up money that I’ve put into the pot
Whether I call or fold, the money is irrelevant. My aim is to improve as a poker player and the way that I achieve that is by making better decisions. If the best decision is to fold, that’s all that matters. I have no rights over the money I’ve already committed to the pot. If I put money into a pot it’s because either I think I have the best hand or I think I can make my opponent fold. If my opponent raises, I’ve just been told that’s no longer the case. No big deal.
There is nothing I can do about the cards my opponent holds. It’s completely out of my control. All I can control are the decisions I make. If I don’t fold when I know I should, it’s nobodies fault but my own. It’s my mistake.
I don’t like the thought of being exploited or ran over
I play 5 & 10nl. Nobody is exploiting me. If someone were good enough that they could exploit me, they wouldn’t be playing these stakes. It’s that simple.
I often don't know whether there are worse hands in villain’s range that he would raise for value
This is the one I don’t think is totally irrational. However, the solution is still very simple. Get better at poker.
Spend more time working on ranges and perceived ranges. If I cant determine which hands villain is raising with then name the hands in his range and think, rationally, about what he is most likely to do with them. What does my hand look like? If I take an extremely strong line and my opponent raises, is he really doing it with top pair? Shouldn’t think so.
My aim is to take pride in folding. Being able to make good folds (and value bet, of course) is what will set me apart from other players at the limits and allow me to move up. I should take pride in being able to make folds that others would be incapable of. Every time I get raised and find the fold button, I improve as a player. Every fold I make takes me a step closer to being able to be the best player I can be.
Every session I play is an opportunity to make good folds. I’ll be proud of myself that I made the right decision and remind myself that making good decisions is the goal, not making money. As long as I keep making the right decisions and as long as I keep folding when I know I should, the money will take care of itself.