September 08, 2009

The Effect of Confidence

Poker is a game ruled by egos. You see it every day, from message boards to the chat box in a Pokerstars 6-max game. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has to be heard and, more importantly, everyone has to be right or at the least respected.

I have a tough time with my poker for this simple reason.

Many people who know me will know that overall I am fairly self-depreciating, a typically British trait but one which seems to be more pronounced in my case and this leads to problems in a game like poker and tbh in life in general. (Kind of hard to argue that you should get a pay rise/much better job when you’re not convinced yourself)

Now arrogance is something which can be extremely harmful in poker and, in fact, a lot of the Elements of Poker seek to prevent the ego from becoming a dominant factor in decision-making however the opposite is also true.

A lack of self-confidence can lead even the best players to go broke for a very simple reason.

We are always told that Poker is a negative sum emotional game and this is true. However, for someone who has a lack of confidence in their own ability, or even a general lack of faith in the laws of probability (i.e. world hate’s me etc), it is even more devastating.

People with a lack of this self-confidence will tend to see things the opposite way around to what those with over-confidence will see. The losing sessions will be due to “playing bad” and the winning ones will be due to a “good run” and you can get a worse emotional hit from losing, say 50BB, than you do from grinding out 300+BB.

What the mindset develops is the fundamental belief that you don’t believe any positive result is down to merit and very quickly a “tinkerman” style attitude takes over finding problems which aren’t there and equating bad runs with losing the plot.

“When a man is convinced he’s going to die tomorrow, he’ll probably find a way to make it happen”

In a similar way, if you’re convinced you’re not a winning player then you never will be. You’ve lost the battle before you’ve even begun.

Now why am I writing this?

The reason is that I’ve noticed some of these thoughts creeping into my own mindset at the moment and I kind of wanted to get it on paper (well screen but you get where I’m coming from) to show that I am mindful of the current problem. The only problem is I don’t yet know how to fix it.

Most people I’ve spoken to are pretty positive about my game overall once they’ve seen it however there is a flaw in trying to use these lines of thinking to inflate ego.

Confidence is faith in oneself and it can almost never be given by another. I am fully aware of the successes I’ve had in life but I’m also aware of the failures, the missed opportunities, the potential left un-fulfilled and the challenges which still await me, after all I’m the one who has to spend the most time with me on a daily basis.

Shifts in mental tone are very hard to accomplish but with some focus and thought, and maybe a day off from working on my bloody room, I’ll try and find some answers. I get the feeling this is going to be a tougher challenge than any Small Stakes 6-max table could ever be and ultimately could be a great deal more rewarding.

Posted By Boomer at 07:25 AM



TecmoSuperBowl posted on September 09, 2009 at 16:21 PM


Nice post :) Sounds very similar to an article I wrote for 2p2 magazine.

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