How to Avoid Being Results Orientated in Poker (It Might Shock You)

How to Avoid Being Results Orientated in Poker
Something that a lot of poker players struggle with is being too results orientated. By this I mean focusing too much on short term results.

And the reason why this is bad is because sometimes in poker you can get extremely lucky or unlucky over short periods of time like a week or a month.

This can then lead you to start believing that you really are that good (or that bad) when neither is true in reality. And this ultimately prevents you from having a realistic outlook on your poker abilities and what you might need to work on.

So in this article I am going to discuss a few ways to stop being so results orientated in poker.

1. Don't Look At Your Results

I am just going to state the most obvious way to stop being results orientated in poker first. Just don't look at your results.

Now this is something that is much easier said than done. And of course at a certain point you do need to look at your results in order to know if you are making progress or not and when to move up as well.

But day to day results or even week to week really aren't that important when you really think about it. During these time periods literally anything can happen (good or bad) and obsessively following it is like reading the trashy tabloids about celebrity scandals.

You just don't need to know it!

In fact I actually know plenty of online pros who only check their results once a month. I have never managed to attain this level of discipline. But I typically only check my results once per week.

The hidden benefit of shielding yourself from the knowledge of this useless information (day to day results) is that you are far less likely to go on tilt due to poor results or start playing too cautiously due to really good results.

It allows you to just focus on the only thing that you actually control in poker which is making the best decision in each hand that you are dealt.

If you have never done this before, I would recommend starting small. The next session you play, just don't check your results this one time. It won't kill you.

And believe me, the knowledge of how much you were up or down is totally meaningless. It has absolutely zero impact on your true longterm profitability in this game.

This kind of thing isn't for everybody. And it does take a lot of discipline. It is completely natural to want to know how you did.

But this is truly the best way that there is to stop being so results orientated in poker. Ignorance sometimes really is bliss.

2. Focus on Your Longterm Results Instead

Another good way to stop worrying about your short term results in poker is to focus on the results that actually matter, which are your longterm results.

By longterm I am talking about hundreds of thousands of hands or months and months of play. This is when variance begins to start sorting itself out and your true profitability (or lack thereof) shows itself.

So, often what I will do is just grab a screenshot of my longterm graph in Pokertracker and make it my desktop wallpaper on my computer.

Any time things are going poorly for me at the poker tables I will then go have look this and remind myself of reality, that I am a winning player over the long term.

Now of course this method presupposes that you have indeed played hundreds of thousands of hands and of course that you are a winning poker player.

If this isn't the case yet then I would suggest starting at the very lowest limits available at the poker site that you play on and employing a very simple TAG strategy. TAG stands for tight and aggressive.

You should also be practicing table selection and working on any tilt problems that you might have that could be holding you back.

I wrote a free little ebook called Massive Profit at the Micros which shows you how to do all this and more. I would recommend picking that up if you haven't yet.

But if you do have any kind of longterm profitable results, then this is what you need to constantly be reminding yourself of when you have a bad session.

Remember that one bad session (or even 3 or 5 of them) do not define you as a poker player. The long run is all that matters in poker. And it can be very long!

3. View Each Session as a Chance to Learn and Improve

If you are just starting out in poker, then learning the fundamentals and getting better at poker should be your main goals. Even if your results are not great yet, you can look at your struggles at the micros as a cheap way to further your poker education.

The reason why is because this experience is the only way to really get better. Everybody I know (including myself) who eventually became big winners and/or went pro all started out grinding away at the lower stakes for long hours.

I used to play absurdly long sessions on as many tables as they allowed until I could barely see straight anymore.

Now I don't really recommend this level of maniacal obsession but all of those millions and millions of hands forced my brain to see a lot of the same situations over and over again.

There comes a certain point where even the most stubborn person is going to recognize that they always lose money when they do X. So they will start doing Y instead.

So even though I probably played way too many hands at the micros I got an incredible poker education for a very cheap price. It made me into the poker player (and the author as well) that I am today.

So if you are just starting out in poker don't worry about your results so much right now even if they are not very good yet. And you can look at it as a cheap lesson in how to get better at this game.

And this is why it is really important that you also study your hands away from the table. This is one of the fastest ways to become a winning poker player.

You can also study other good players in a program like Pokertracker and find out what they are doing differently and perhaps better than you.

4. Accept and Embrace Variance

The last, and ultimately most practical way to stop being so results orientated in poker, is to just learn to accept variance (the natural ups and downs) in this game.

results orientated poker

Look here's the thing. The fish have to be able to hit their lucky card sometimes or else they would not continue playing this game.

If poker were all skill all the time like in chess for instance, then they would never stand a chance. They would quickly realize that it is their lack of skill that prevented them from winning and they would ultimately quit playing.

But poker's way of throwing them a bone every once in awhile allows them to keep deluding themselves into thinking that they are just the unluckiest poker player on earth. This keeps them depositing again and again which turns into the profit that you ultimately make in this game.

As they often say, "denial runs the entire industry."

Now I know that sometimes it can be very frustrating when they hit their lucky card against you again and again. It seems unfair. Why can't it happen to somebody else?

Well, the thing is, is that it does happen to everybody else over the long run as well. I like to think of it as paying tax for my ability to sit down and make money playing a silly card game on the internet.

Sometimes I have to pay more or less tax than others, but it all evens out in the end. And the bottom line is that I profit in the end.

So really the most healthy way to stop being so results orientated is to just accept that variance is a natural part of the game. And it is a beautiful thing really. It is why there is so much money in poker whereas nobody really gets rich playing chess.

Final Thoughts

Short term results in poker are a blessing and a curse for a lot of people. I discuss this in more detail in my free poker cheat sheet by the way.

Because the problem is that you kind of become a slave to them. You get a quick little high when you win and feel depressed when you lose.

But since these results are almost completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things this is really just wasted energy. Poker just doesn't work this way. Poker isn't a short term results game. It takes months and sometimes even years to get your true results.

This is why it is a much better idea to focus on the process rather than the results. Because the truth is that if you play each hand well, you will get rewarded for it in the long run. And furthermore, this is the only thing that you actually have control over anyways.

Hopefully a few of the strategies in this article will help you avoid being so results orientated in the future. Let me know your thoughts below!

Lastly, if you found this post useful, do me a favor and "Like" or "Tweet" it below, thanks!

Poker results orientated


  1. Great article Nathan and really timely for me personally. I had an *awful* start to June and it took me the whole month (literally until the last session on June 30) to make the month profitable for me. If I had quit early in the month, I would have never gotten to the better sessions. Sometimes you just have to keep at it.

    Anyways, always enjoy your articles, keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks a lot Dennis and glad you were able to turn it around!

    2. I could not agree more. The number secret to success is perseverance, beyond hard work and study. You persevere, you improve, you accept, you win. Thank you for all the content Nathan. Keep inspiring and more people will be big winners from low and medium stakes cash games. Success takes a ton of commitment, but it is so worth it in the end.

    3. Thanks Armon! And yes, 100%, I owe everything in poker to perseverance. This is a brutal game sometimes but you gotta be willing to stay on track and just keep making the right plays over and over. Let the math sort it out in the end.

    4. I am going to work extremely hard and persevere until the end, as you did. My only concern is that because the average standard of poker in 2019 is slightly better than it was between 2005-2012 for example. That I may have to play a few hundred thousand more hands than you had to achieve a similar win rate or enough of a win rate to be profitable enough, e.g. 10-12 BB's/100 hands at NL10. Of course, its still do-able just may take a bit more time, I guess I just have to accept it. :) Thank you once again. Lets the math sort it out in the end.

  2. Great article.Its even harder to maintain focus and discipline on live games.The pace is much much slower,the stakes are higher,and there is the time waste for transportation to the x casino from where you live,call it a night when the fish busts and there are no seats available at the next table etc.Live downswings can last for months even if you are the best player in town.The problem about live results is that everytime you get stacked or wannna top up,you have to get real money from you wallet to buy chips.Unavoidably,you count money when you do this. Only partial solution is to have chips instead of cash in your pocket so you can top up whenever needed.Dont cash out when done,just take the chips at the end of each month,just count the sum total and check your results.Takes a robot like discipline but it gets the job done.

    1. Thanks Jimmy. Yup harder to do with live poker, good tips though!

  3. Great article Nathan, ever since I started hiding the number in my cashier I started focusing more on then game rather than my BR.

  4. Thanks for the article Nathan! I always read your newsletter and find it very helpful ;-)

    1. Glad you enjoyed and thanks for reading!

  5. How do you manage to review necessary hands in PT without looking at results?

    1. Good question. It isn't easy to do in PT4. So I will usually just do one big review session per week.

  6. I loved the long term PokerTracker results screendump wallpaper!

    1. Glad it helped, I have been doing that for years.

  7. Hi! I've been tryng to not look at results, but I have a question. How am I going to know if I should move up or down if I don't check results for a month? (I am currently movnig a bit up and down limits depending on various factors, but fairly stable at one limit at a time)
    And; how am I going to check and review hands in PT4 without accidentaly seeing results?

    1. If you are actively trying to move up or down the limits then you will probably have to check your results a little bit more often than once a month. With hand reviews this is a little bit difficult to do in PT4. Like I said in a comment above, I tend to just do one big review session per week.

  8. I don't understand what is so hard about looking at results only once per month ? Since I first started playing poker I found that easy .... you just don't look ... it's not that hard.

  9. I find multitabling really effective in handling tilt. It makes you less outcome dependant on one table especially if your not hitting anything.

  10. Unrelated but Pokerstar has just updated the new reward system, rakeback from 16 - 27% down to 5% or something like this.
    Every $ 2.4 rake will earn 240 points = 1 red chest, I just opened 2 of them (one is 7 starcoin and one is 8 starcoin). So rakeback is now extremely low, meaning that almost all breakeven players will lose from today. I'm currently sticking in 10NL fullring and trying up to 25NL this year, I am very bewildered ,I do'nt know play fullring and up stake in Pokerstar is still a good choice anymore. What do you think about this blackRain?

    1. Hi Nam,

      Since the changes are so new, I haven't had a chance to really look at them yet. Also though, the style of play that I have been recommending for years now is all about maximizing table winnings so you don't have to rely on rakeback anyways. This is why I also haven't recommended this particular site in many years due to it having tougher games than most others.

    2. You have a compensation. I personally am using my star coins from cash games and tournaments to play the daily jackpot, which is obviously a long shot but still worth trying for. You can also get cash back from star coins, which will counter the problems with rake. Or am I missing something? :)

  11. I have a real mental block with results. It doesn't help that one of the bullet-points here is "focus on long-term results", because that's still being results-oriented.

    I study, I make good decisions, I tag hands I'm unsure about and review them later, and I make mistakes from time to time. But at the end of the day (and the week and the month and the year), if my results don't reflect my decisions, what have I got? I think of how peculiar it would be if a poker player was backed by someone who promised to cover the player's losses due to bad results from good decisions.

    I have tried, as another bullet point says, to treat each session as a learning experience. Most of the time what I learn from my bad sessions is that I can only control my own actions, and that the rest of the game is out of my hands. I can't stop bad players from making bad decisions that work out in their favor. I can't prevent another player's outs from hitting. What more I can learn from a session where I continually get it in good and lose, often to poorly played hands?

    (Actual example from my latest session: turbo progressive knockout, CO limps w/ 57bb, BTN limps w/ 17bb, I bet 4x w/ 99 from the SB w/ 30bb, CO calls. Flop is K95 rainbow, I bet 1/3 pot, CO shoves, I call, and his 87o hits a gutshot. I've tagged him and noted his play. I also tag the hand and note my open might've been too small, although if BTN limp-calls 1/4 of his stack, he's probably limp-calling 1/3 of his stack.)

    Finally, regarding variance, it feels like that's just saying "sometimes the results will be good, too" which is still being results-oriented. There's also no guarantee that my hand history will be one in which variance does, in fact, even out. What I mean is, my hand history could represent an outlier on the variance curve.

    Sorry for this rant, but I've been stewing over this for the better part of a year.

    1. Edit: it was late. The 99 v 87 hand was played against the button, not the cut-off.

    2. Curious if you have any feedback on this. Three months into 2019 and I feel pretty much the same way. Players floating flops and finding runner runner, bubbling tournaments constantly due bad runouts (AA < 66 aipf, AQ < A5 vs chip leader, etc.), entire tournaments full of unplayable hands, etc. Nothing to learn from.

      I can study as much as I want, but I can't seem to find circumstances to put any of it into practice.

    3. What you said about not looking at your results is actually, really great advice because your emotions are always going to be affected, knowing how much you are winning or losing in any 1 session. Bottom line is the results you achieve over 1 day or 2 days are completely meaningless and success in poker is all long term. You keep making better decisions and improving your game and you end up with all the money. Great advice, once again Nathan.

    4. Tournaments are very frustrating. No matter how good you are variance is a killer in the short and medium term. To prove this, Moorman1, Chris Moorman had 3 years on Poker Stars where he did not make money. His is ranked at number 1 on tournament online earnings or close enough to that. This shows you that if you want consistent income, through hard slog it has to be cash games and keep tournaments on the side, shot taking etc. I realised this 5 years later than I should of. Still grinding away at both cash games and tournaments now. The road is long, success is not for the weak or non-committed. With dedication everything is possible. Good luck man.

    5. Hey Armon,

      Not looking at your results is easier said than done haha. But I do think it is an effective tilt control strategy. I think the #1 thing for me was checking my cashier every 5 minutes.

      There is no need to ever check during a session in my opinion unless you are getting killed at the tables and using some sort of stop loss strategy. But even still, for an experienced player, it's easy to know when things are going bad and you should quit. Hope this helps!

    6. Yes, I make the same mistake when checking my graph on Poker Tracker, I am trying to look at hand count, but keep seeing the green or red number showing profit or loss for the session :) You were right, short term results in the 1st few weeks of grinding low stakes are meaningless, win or lose. I read your article about table selection and I really believe its the number 1 thing required to crush NL5 and NL10 on Poker Stars. There are a lot of rocks and NITS at NL5 especially and as you said without really good table selection, you just can't get a consistent win rate and grind out a solid wage every month. On a separate note, today, 6/08/2019, I have been grinding NL10, 4 tabling only, for 2-3 hours, 10am-12 , just 2 hours I played, had a rough session, 1 or 2 crucial errors, 1 or 2 really tough spots. I am down 30 dollars, no big deal. Need to look over my hands and review. I got check raised on a Queen-7-5 ( 2 heart flop) by the button preflop raiser, ( I had 3 bet pre with Aces ). Is my correct play to call or raise here? I decided to call, in case he had set of 7's or Q7 for example, turn paired the board, offsuit 5, I check my opponent bet again, small 1 dollar approx. I just called. River offsuit Jack. I checked, my opponent went all-in, I used my timebank and last second I hero called and he showed 5-6 offsuit… :) trips 5's. I just figured he would over-bet with Queen Jack as well or King-Queen possibly. Any advice on this hand Nathan. Thank you for replying to all my comments, its really appreciated. I am sure you life is very busy but you still make time to reply. Respect. ( I did quit for this session, should of quit at 25, instead of 30, live and learn. Table selection and the time you play, really makes a big difference to REGS.