Making unbiased and informed decisions in the heat of the moment

LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 516 ✭✭✭
edited March 2018 in General Concepts
Little bit of background: I am a microstakes player online and I have been to the local casino five times, playing €2-€2. I consider my mental game to be solid in the following aspect: I accept and appreciate poker for what it is, understand that what matters is the long term, can handle bad beats, suckouts and being outplayed. I go the wrong way mentally in the following two scenarios:

1. Online and live: in more spots than I'd dare to admit, I immediately make a decision and then talk myself into that decision. Example: I have a big hand (let's say trips or straight of smth.) and the flush comes in on the river. I have led the whole hand and suddenly villain donks into me. I immediately think I HAVE TO FOLD and then start to think about all the flushes which got there, and quickly discount any bluffs or hands that I beat. While I might be correct that I should fold, my thought process was completely wrong and inevitably I make a ton of mistakes.

2. Live: in big pots... the adrenaline man. Here we run into even bigger problems than before: I become unable to range my villain altogether, and if I do it's very vague (oh maybe some pocket pairs and Jx). I constantly find myself unable to think clearly in big hands, and feel my heart racing. I feel in these spots that I am mostly lucky if I happen to be making the right play.

I'd like to ask:
* Do you guys also have this feeling (let's call it instinct) for what you should be doing, but then consider all options and have the ability to ignore your instinct?
* Are you guys at all nervous or adrenaline-filled in big pots? If so, how do you deal with it? If not, how? =)

Cheers, looking forward to your responses.
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Comments

  • RedRed Red Chipper Posts: 2,144 ✭✭✭✭
    Rush and adrenaline is a fun part of poker. Especially in big pot or in big bluffs

    Now to remain as calm as possible, I (try to) am as analytical as possible. Less emotion, more maths in my decision making.
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 516 ✭✭✭
    Whole-heartedly agree that it's a major fun factor.

    The problem is that this rush/adrenaline seems to be too overwhelming for me
  • ChipFluxChipFlux Red Chipper Posts: 89 ✭✭
    I submit that if you (collectively not in particular LeChiffre) are playing poker to enjoy the adrenaline buzz.... then that is what you should do. And some players SAY they are not playing for that reason, but in fact they may be doing so, perhaps subconsciously.

    The more you play, the less the adrenaline kicks in. Playing bigger pots becomes more "normal". This can be both good and bad... good in that you don't have the adrenaline surge while trying to think, and bad if you are in fact chasing the buzz and it takes bigger and bigger action to satisfy the itch.

    Some players develop and use a mental and physical routine while playing a hand of poker. I think this is helpful to players who are trying to maximize their skill and thinking without the interruption of adrenaline induced "panicky" thoughts. In the least, the routine serves as a re- centering mechanism if the buzz begins to interfere with clear thinking.

    WRT the instinct question... yes, sometimes it seems you "just know". Usually, but not always, i regret not following my instinct. I think experience also helps develop one's instinct at the table. Having said that, i don't really think its "instinct" per se, but rather its a collection of internalized experiences that trigger a "feeling" rather than a tangible thought.
  • Timothy BryantTimothy Bryant Red Chipper Posts: 18 ✭✭
    I can certainly relate to both of these points! They are both still learning curves for me. Something that is helping me with the quick response decision making "instinct" is to try to slow my game down a lot. (This tends to piss people off online) but at the end of the day, it is helping my game. I take my time even with obvious hands. Lets say I am in position, and utg+2 throws in a 3-bet. I am holding 49o - immediate fold right? Rather than movikmg so quickly, I take my time to watch each player and study there tendacies and actions. Before trying this, I would just say, ok I will fold once action is on me and ignore the rest of the hand (subconsciously), this change has helped me reformulate my analyzing and play of thr game.

    In terms of point 2. Many responses have talked about adrenaline and rush, while these are factors that go in to play... what about stress? Live hands with big pots or even medium pots can cause stress for me, especially holding a middle of the road hand (47%,56%).
    How do you guys combat stress? Which tends to make it far less enjoyable.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,745 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2018
    Pro golfers have a set "pre shot routine" that they go through for every single shot. For example, they do the same setup routine for every putt they make, regardless of the situation, stakes or pressure. Basketball free throw shooters do the same. You might benefit by doing the same for postflop poker decisions. I don't want you to slow your game down too much though :) You'll get faster at going through your mental checklist for they easy ones, and you're allowed to take more time for the tougher ones. The point is to actually have the mental process and follow it. It could take you a long time to fully develop it while your poker knowledge is increasing, but it can start benefiting you immediately. Incorporate all the things you want to take into account (including your intuition and adrenaline awareness).
  • foxxxerfoxxxer Red Chipper Posts: 101 ✭✭
    This issue really resonates with me. Once a hand starts, I am always trying to think about some or all of these things:

    What's the effective stack
    Whose range does this board favor
    What's Vs range:
    - What hands will V fold
    - What hands should I value target
    What's my range:
    - What cards will I barrel on
    - What bluffs should I have here

    What effective odds am I getting
    How can I size my bet to:
    - Give V wrong price to realize equity
    - Get stacks in
    - Not leave myself with an awkward stack size on a future street

    I don't think it's as much adrenaline as it is paralysis by analysis. To continue the golf metaphor, it's similar to standing over the ball and thinking about what you need to do with your legs, hips, arms, shoulders, eyes and by the time you start swinging you have no chance.

    Obviously the key here is off the table practice and repetition, but I'd be really interested to hear what specific types of practice help with which elements and also whatever heuristics anyone has come up with to shorten the thought process.


  • foxxxerfoxxxer Red Chipper Posts: 101 ✭✭
    I can share one I've been using that I mostly gleaned from Theory of Poker and seems really basic but helps me shortcut through some of the math.

    If I'm facing a bet and I'm deciding on a call, I'll try to give myself an equity if called approximation that makes the math a little easier. For example in a recent hand I held AT on K987 and estimated I had about 9 outs or more simply about a 4-to-1 chance of winning.

    Then, regardless of what's in the pot, I just take the bet that I'm facing and determine what price I need in order to make it profitable. In this case the bet was $150 so I decided I need to get back $600 to make it +ev.

    Finally, I looked at the pot and see there's $525 and guessed I could make up the difference and thus its a profitable call. This looks like a lot when typing but after a little practice its just "4-to-1, $150x4, $600, ok call".
  • MidnightFoxMidnightFox Red Chipper Posts: 321 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Phil Galfond: “I know from being a player myself and from talking to other players, that when you’re facing a big bet on this Turn or River, what you’re asking yourself is, ‘Can I call here? Does he have air here enough for me to call?’, ‘Do I hit Rivers and get paid-off often enough to call?’ And almost never do they ask, ‘can I fold here?’, ‘can I find a fold?’”

    The context is different, but I think it’s useful here. Check to see if you are only asking one of them:
    “Can I call here?”, and “Can I find a fold?”.



    *Source:
    :Jd :Tc
  • EazzyEazzy Red Chipper Posts: 969 ✭✭✭✭
    Phil Galfond: “I know from being a player myself and from talking to other players, that when you’re facing a big bet on this Turn or River, what you’re asking yourself is, ‘Can I call here? Does he have air here enough for me to call?’, ‘Do I hit Rivers and get paid-off often enough to call?’ And almost never do they ask, ‘can I fold here?’, ‘can I find a fold?’”

    The context is different, but I think it’s useful here. Check to see if you are only asking one of them:
    “Can I call here?”, and “Can I find a fold?”.



    *Source:
    :Jd :Tc

    Great video. I like his discussion of variance (reducing it is good). I often make the same argument but always suspected that at least in part it was specious, just to keep my inner nit happy.

    I personally tend to think...big bet, is there enough combos he might bluff here with (and /or that I can beat). I tend to think most players at low stake don't make enough bluffs, and defiantly don't bluff enough into strength.

    As a result, one of the first things I note is the players who do bluff, and the ones who do it into strength. Knowing that this is something I look for (and looking for it) makes laying down big hands to big bets much easier.
  • LeChiffreLeChiffre NetherlandsRed Chipper Posts: 516 ✭✭✭
    The more you study and the more things become second nature, you become increasingly indifferent. Having reallllly strong fundamentals does worlds for your confidence. I found studying for an hour a day before I play also makes me play more boldly over the table.

    That being said, nearly ten years into a poker career, I still get heated over 2BI coinflips at any stake. :D

    I think this is a good point. Hopefully when I join CORE in a couple of weeks I'll be more confident and indifferent.
    ChipFlux wrote: »

    Some players develop and use a mental and physical routine while playing a hand of poker. I think this is helpful to players who are trying to maximize their skill and thinking without the interruption of adrenaline induced "panicky" thoughts. In the least, the routine serves as a re- centering mechanism if the buzz begins to interfere with clear thinking.

    WRT the instinct question... yes, sometimes it seems you "just know". Usually, but not always, i regret not following my instinct. I think experience also helps develop one's instinct at the table. Having said that, i don't really think its "instinct" per se, but rather its a collection of internalized experiences that trigger a "feeling" rather than a tangible thought.

    Will ook into some routines as I realise now I don't have any. Have the ability to train this routine online, too, so hopefully that will help in a live environment. Will have a look around, thanks :)

    And yes, it's not really instinct but more as you describe it.
    I take my time even with obvious hands.

    This should be helpful. Developing a routine as mentioned before and after you should help. Maybe I should stop multi-tabling for a while and just stick to one table and train this routine -- even if the spot is extremely obvious.

    Thanks guys, very helpful indeed!

  • jfarrow13jfarrow13 Red Chipper Posts: 1,254 ✭✭✭✭
    A few things for myself that others have noted, the more studying and confident you become in the math, the more you can relax as your not afraid because you "know" it's the right play, or the math backs it up. Yes, it can be hard to remove yourself from the fact that you are bluffing $350 with ace high for a $800 pot. That's a lot of money (at least to me), and sometimes it's hard to remove yourself from the money component, and that can make you nervous. Additionally, being properly bankrolled realllyyyyyy reduces anxiety or stress. When you are no longer worried about "locking up wins" or "God this is my 5th buy-in lost in a row! I only got 5 back after this!", the freedom to make the correct plays and trusting the math unshackles you. You start taking higher variance, yet profitable spots because you no longer fear going broke. I personally try to avoid marginal spots, so I may pass up on +EV spots in order to "reduce" variance (if someone shoved all in on me after I opened for $15 with 99 and they flipped over AK and they had $800 and I had $800, I'd give him my $15, even if it's a +EV call). I am currently rebuilding my bank-roll, and so I will just look for better spots, but someone once gave me great advice in that "if a spot's +EV is greater than your hourly, take it. Otherwise, you don't need to take every EV spot".

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