This One Little Thing Can Destroy Your Poker Game (Avoid It!)

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As they say, poker is an easy game to learn but it can take a lifetime to master. So you need to make sure that you are eliminating any bad habits from your poker game.

And there is one particularly bad habit that can not only destroy your poker game but all of your profits and your bankroll as well.

This bad poker habit is focusing on the short term luck factor. And it comes in a variety of different ways, from obsessing over your day to day winnings, to fixating on your results with pocket aces too much.

All of this short term thinking in poker is more harmful for your poker results than you possibly know. In fact, it is the #1 reason why most people do not win at this game.

So in this article I am going to show you how to stop fixating on what doesn't matter at the poker tables and how the pros think about the game instead.


Forget About Your Pocket Aces


One of the first things you need to do is let go of this manic obsession that we all have every time we get dealt pocket aces or pocket kings.

Believe me, I get it. They don't come around very often, at all. And those rockets or cowboys sure do look nice after folding all of those terrible hands for hours on end it feels like!

But you have to remember that pocket AA and pocket KK are just one pair. They will lose a certain percentage of the time just like all other hands.

You do not have some god given right to win the pot just because you got dealt one of these hands. And yes, they will lose sometimes, 2, 4 or even 10 times in a row.

People absolutely lose their minds over this simple fact though. If you want some evidence of this go check out my recent is PokerStars Rigged post. And then go read the comment section.

The amount of pure crazy there is overwhelming.

What some of these people fail to understand is that writing long angry incoherent comments on my blog about all your bad beat stories is not going to make them stop happening.

Because this is simply the way that poker works. You will get bad beats with your pocket aces and pocket kings and it won't stop, ever.

So you can immediately gain a massive edge over a lot of your competition by accepting the simple fact that aces and kings are just another hand that will lose sometimes.


Forget About Your Poker Results Over Days or Weeks


And while you are at it, if you want to take your mental game to a truly elite level, you should stop caring about your poker results over periods of hours, days or weeks as well.

I actually just don't even bother looking anymore. When somebody asks me how it's been going lately at the poker tables my answer is always the same.

I don't know. Couldn't tell you. Because I haven't bothered to look lately!

Here is what I do instead of obsessing over my hour to hour, day to day or week to week results like most other people do.




I sit down and I play poker. I make the best decisions that I am capable of. And then when I am ready, I quit my poker session and go do something else.

The results don't matter because I know that I am playing in games that I can crush and I know that I am way more experienced and work way harder than all my competition away from the tables.

Therefore, I know I will win in the long run. I don't need to obsessively check my results day in and day out to prove this.

Now of course I do need to check my balance sometimes and I will usually do that once or twice a month at the most.

If you truly want to rise above all the craziness and instantly become mentally stronger than 95% of other poker players, stop paying attention to short term results.


Avoid Equity Adjusted Winnings Reports


For those of you using a HUD program like PokerTracker there is another bad habit that is easy to fall into. And that is focusing too much on your equity adjusted results.

This is essentially a representation of what your results would be if you had run "normal."

But what is normal in poker? I will tell you what it is, it's a made up fairy tale land that doesn't even exist! The truth is that sometimes you are going to run way above EV (expected value) and sometimes way below EV.

There is absolutely no point in paying any attention to it because when you are running below EV you will get bitter about it and when running above EV you will feel like you are only winning because you are a luckbox.

So I suggest ignoring this stat in PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager altogether. In other words, remove. I have the equity adjusted winnings stat completely removed in PokerTracker.


The Big Secret to Winning Poker


So what should you do instead to rise above the level of all this short term thinking that is bound to ruin your poker winnings, poker bankroll and your entire career?

Well, unfortunately there is no magic pill here.

As I often say on this blog and elsewhere, poker is a boring game. It is played out over large sample sizes and the only thing that really matters is the long, long run. Months and years and even decades in some cases.

Poker is the exact opposite of a get rich quick scheme.

But many people see poker on TV or in movies and they get into the game for the big bluff, the crazy all-ins and the million dollar final tables.

Guys, this just isn't the reality of poker though. That's all make believe.

If you want to win at poker over the long run then you need to treat this game like you would a job. Get in there and grind it out day in and day out.

It is called a "grind" for a reason.

Implement the same simple tight and aggressive strategy over and over again at the lower limits and you will see success over a period of months and years.

That's the the big secret. The big secret is that there is no secret! You simply get in there and grind and push small edges over extremely large sample sizes.

It's not glamorous, it's not sexy. Heck, a lot of the time it is downright boring. But it's winning poker.


Final Thoughts


Short term thinking is the one little thing that can screw up your entire poker career.

But when you think about it this is kind of the case for nearly everything in life. You wouldn't start a new business or a gym routine and expect to see any kind of significant results in a few days or a week right?

So why would you with poker?

What makes poker different in that so many people expect results to happen right away? I think it might be a byproduct of how we think now as a society. Everybody expects immediate results.

The game of poker wasn't created for impatient people looking to make a quick buck though. In fact, we have a name for those kind of people in poker.

They are called fish.

And you can see them all over the internet complaining about how their AA got cracked again, while the real grinders are quietly putting in the long hours at the poker tables and laughing all the way to the bank.


Let me know in the comments below what you think of short term thinking in poker. Do you think it is helpful or harmful?

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24 comments:

  1. Lol you are 100% correct as always.I play a lot of live holdem and I love when regs start to loose it whenever they are in a bad day or week.I just love to exploit their entitlement tilt and take their money when they refuse to fold them overpairs,low flushes etc.Im having better results than many regs more capable than me only because i have worked so much on my mental game.If its time to bet fold or check fold,do it,and luve to fight another day..

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    1. Ya that's a good point Jimmy. A lot of money to be made in poker by knowing which regs are on tilt. Many of them are almost spewing as bad as the fish at that point.

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  2. Im pretty competitive, and having a losing session actually annoys me and if I have a couple of losing days I definitely start to go on tilt. I think perhaps I need to put more thought into the long term (where I do have good results) than the short.

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    1. I am extremely competitive as well so none of this comes naturally at all. But poker is a game where you can make the correct play every time and still lose for days, weeks and sometimes even months. So sometimes I just need to bury my head in the sand and simply trust in the process.

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    2. If you are a proven winning player over a substantial sample,whenever your poker day sux,take a walk,focus on your graphs or results,remember the good days when you take all the moneyz,and thank god for bad players who call preflop jams with A4o and crack your Kk.Just pretend you are having fun as well,make jokes etc.Its the poker taxman who makes sure bad players return to the game.If you cant handle the luck factor,play chess.

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  3. Another great article Nathan. But I'm afraid that this might be a losing battle. Some people will *always* focus on the short term, no matter what you tell them.

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    1. Thanks Dennis. Yes, I understand it is human nature. I still battle this myself after 10+ years in the game.

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  4. Hi Nathan. If you don't have à look To your résult, you don't use "stop lose" strategy? Excuse me for my english i'm french.

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    1. Hey Tankman,

      I personally don't use a stop/loss strategy but for people who have big tilt problems it is probably a good idea. And then of course you need to check your results.

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  5. Nice article, thanks!!

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    1. Thanks for reading, glad it helped :)

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  6. Hello Nathan,
    Have been playing NL25 lately ?

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    1. Yes, I play at all levels of the micros.

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  7. Great article blackrain79..i need to mention that your crushing the microstakes was the first book i ever read on poker..back in 2016..and would recommend that as the first book any aspiring poker player should read!..thanks for that..

    On this specific thread, i had this issue of massive tilt with cracked premiums..but, off late have started ignoring beats, and fill my brain with positive interjections as and when it happens..

    on checking results thing, it sorts of keeps me motivated..tracking results brings spice into the daily/weekly grind..just another perspective..what i don't do is worry too much if the week is negative..it doesn't affects the study routine..but just a motivation factor when things are running hot..does anyone else feels like that?

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    1. Thanks for the kind words about my book, glad it helped you so much!

      Ya regarding not checking your stats, it's not something everyone needs to do. If you are not negatively affected by bad results and you are good at just "rolling with the punches" by all means, check it every session.

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  8. I'll be bookmarking this article and coming back to it over and over to remind myself how a winning poker player thinks. I'm in the world of personal finances and so much of mastering your money is mental so this article spoke LOUDLY to me. Thanks as always, Nathan. Your tireless work for your readers is making a difference for us at the tables.

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    1. Thanks Jason I am glad this article helped! I have always thought that there is a lot of crossover with poker and finance and investing as well from a mental point of view. Poker players are more likely to get it.

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  9. You absolutely right but I will still use my ev stats just to see how variance influence my results and it is calming me down when I played ok but had no luck.

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    1. Awesome and that is totally fine. I should have added at the end of this article, "do what works for you." Because that is what is most important.

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  10. Great article!
    On another topic, I was wondering if you have an article on when to cash out your profits?

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    1. Thanks Jonathan!

      Yes, I wrote about cash out strategy recently. Here is the article:

      https://www.blackrain79.com/2018/05/poker-cash-out-strategy.html

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  11. But if u relied solely on online poker as source of income (esp for mid stake grinder), a week or two tourney downswings do affect your confidence so much.

    I ran from $20 to $250 maximum within a month, when i dropped to ~$110 i cash it out all b/c it feels really suck to be back onto the tables and see the same things (-ve variance) over and over again, your mind kept telling u ''is that really happening. OMFG it feels like the site tries to take all over my money once giving me the earlier wins.''

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    1. A mid stake grinder would not be playing with just $20 regardless if you ran it up to $250 within a month. A Mid stake grinder is someone playing limits up to $5/$10 cash tables with a bankroll of around $5000, if that is what you call yourself.
      An also, Nathan explained about all these fish who concentrate on short term results, pretty much what your saying really. You should never feel sick to be back playing lower stakes because of a losing run, it happens to the best and in no way should you feel it’s a backward step ever. It’s called being Bankrolled for the levels your playing, nothing else. Also, if you ran up your $20 up to $250 why would you not keep playing at that level if you’ve had a great run of results? Why would you move up in limits only to face tougher oppositions?
      Grind it out until you hit $1000 than think of moving up, this way you not playing with scared money ( when you think if I lose this hand I’m going to lose $100, that’s playing with scared money) it shouldn’t matter about the money if your properly bankrolled for that level your playing.

      This was just an observation from reading your comment. It’s not a put down in anyway, it’s just some friendly advice :-)

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  12. I couldn’t believe those comments about PokerStars being rigged. I had email alerts for any new comments and I would chuckle to myself whenever I read a new response.
    I’ve played poker for almost 19 yrs now and I know more than most that AA can get cracked like you say 10 times running, the skill is to forget about it and move on. Skill will always win in the end. I’ve now stopped playing with my HUD and I focus my time observing the other players and thinks of ways or plays to get their cash.
    Your right also that poker is boring, I see and watch all these 20 somethings playing poker on Twitch and going on about Poker is my life and I’ll never stop playing blah blah blah. Let me share something with you, it’s bollox! My number one problem in poker is firing up the computer to actually play poker. I’ve been a winning player throughout my poker career and I still can’t be arsed to play anymore than an hr here or there.
    I’m like you Nathan, I play the low levels because I know I can beat those levels mainly in my sleep and money may of been the reason I started to play, but these days money means nothing to me.
    Like I said, the motivation is my biggest weakness. Any thoughts about that subject would be appreciated.

    Plaza

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