Challenges of a Left Brained Perfectionist Playing this Game

BoilerAceBoilerAce Red Chipper Posts: 426 ✭✭✭
edited April 2018 in General Concepts
I've come along way in the past several years with my poker game but there's still much more room for me to grow as a player. After a lot of self evaluations and a a few emails with Splitsuit, it's confirmed that I suffer from having a technical/precise mind and being a perfectionist....which is kind of bad for poker. (I'm an engineer btw) Studying and working on my game has allowed me to excel at my low limit cash home games, but not necessarily at small casino NLHE or any tournaments. I now have to find that next gear and crush what's holding me back....myself.

From RedChip, I've loosened up over the last few years and make a lot more profit in cash because of it. But I still find myself not wanting to take iffy spots to showdown when facing aggression in cash. I don't take control when I should. I still find myself blinding out looking for a good starting hole cards or made hands in tournaments while I see others using aggression to win in front of me. I make decisions based on my poker $$ graph not wanting to make my trendline go down, instead of making proper poker decisions. It's a constant struggle to keep myself from tightening up over time...before every tournament I have to remind myself to quit waiting on cards and shove with enough BB where I have fold equity. I can study all of this great RC information and know what I should do... but continually go back to conservative at the table. It's almost like I don't 100% believe what I'm learning.

I'm definitely Left-brained and Splitsuit directed me to a couple of forgotten podcasts that speak directly to me...the perfectionist that needs perfect information to act on it...something we will never have in this game. I really don't want to discuss specific hands, etc in this thread...but I would like to hear from Left brained people out there that struggle or have struggled to get better at poker because of it. If you are in the same situation as me, this is the place for you to introduce yourself. Hopefully there are also some success stories out there where you can talk about your own journey transitioning from Left Brain to better poker play....and what steps you took to make it happen.

Comments

  • tripletiretripletire Red Chipper Posts: 323 ✭✭✭
    Learning to trust subconscious intuition and/or de-value conscious thoughts that are trying to override what you've already sensed in to. Of course, once you have a clear enough understanding of the game and your strategy :)
  • persuadeopersuadeo Red Chipper Posts: 4,296 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Step one: abandon myth of right vs left brain people.
  • moishetreatsmoishetreats Red Chipper Posts: 1,819 ✭✭✭✭
    Here's an experiment that I have tried, would try again, and would recommend. Take a low-stakes home game that you play in. Always lift up the corner of your cards as you would but never -- and I mean NEVER -- look at them. Play a session (or even an hour) that way.

    Don't worry: you'll be using your analytical skills and seeking the perfect play. But, you won't be able to rely on waiting for certain cards or made hands. After all, you're going to have to shove some time...

    And, no, I wouldn't let anyone else at the table know. Ever. Feel free to come back here to post and/or brag, though! :)
  • BoilerAceBoilerAce Red Chipper Posts: 426 ✭✭✭
    persuadeo wrote: »
    Step one: abandon myth of right vs left brain people.
    Feel free to debate this one with Splisuit and get back to me :)
  • BoilerAceBoilerAce Red Chipper Posts: 426 ✭✭✭
    Here's an experiment that I have tried, would try again, and would recommend. Take a low-stakes home game that you play in. Always lift up the corner of your cards as you would but never -- and I mean NEVER -- look at them. Play a session (or even an hour) that way.

    Don't worry: you'll be using your analytical skills and seeking the perfect play. But, you won't be able to rely on waiting for certain cards or made hands. After all, you're going to have to shove some time...

    And, no, I wouldn't let anyone else at the table know. Ever. Feel free to come back here to post and/or brag, though! :)

    Just thinking about this puts me on edge! I can’t even imagine doing that in the low stakes limp fest I play in. I see where you are going with this though.
  • DrTriciaDrTricia RCP Coach Posts: 190 ✭✭
    Here's my question (and I am not being snarky with it): what makes you think that it is possible to be a perfectionist in a game with hidden information?

    My sense is that attempting perfection in this game is a fool's errand because there is no way that I know of to play perfectly when there are unknown variables.

    When I was in grad school, I took a number of stats classes and I noticed that the right answer to almost every difficult question was: sampling error. That is when we are collecting data, there is always some amount of sampling error. As we collect more and more data, we can get more and more accurate (less sampling error), but we can never be 100% perfect/right. Any sample, no matter how good and properly collected will contain some amount of sampling error.

    Playing live forces you to make inferences using very small sample sizes which results in increased sampling error. Playing online yields more data, but many players never really delve into it properly anyway...

    I'm thinking that you've been telling yourself the story that you MUST be perfect and only play mistake free poker which in turn causes you frustration, anxiety, and stress because it is not possible to play perfect poker. Dr. Albert Ellis, one of the major contributors to cognitive behavioral therapy, referred to this type of self-talk as musterbations. He said between that and our nutty shoulds, we were all driving ourselves crazy!

    So what to do? Practice being mindful of the stories that you are telling yourself. Notice when these unhelpful thoughts pop into your head. Then practice accepting that your brain is trying to be helpful with these messages (even though it is not helpful) and refocus on playing poker. Be present at the table so you can take in as much information as possible in an attempt to reduce sampling error.

    As you gain more experience and knowledge in poker, you will automatically make fewer mistakes, but you will never have a session where you make no mistakes. If anyone tells you that they have achieved such a fete, you can be quite confident that they are fooling themselves.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    BoilerAce wrote: »
    (I'm an engineer btw) Studying and working on my game has allowed me to excel at my low limit cash home games, but not necessarily at small casino NLHE or any tournaments. ... I still find myself blinding out looking for a good starting hole cards or made hands in tournaments

    I'm not going to disagree with @DrTricia because she's right, but having said that there are certain situations where you can be fairly precise. You can't be "perfect" in a game of imperfect information, but you can still make perfect decisions based on what you know. You should improve your weaknesses, but also take advantage of strengths, and frankly it's ridiculous for a perfectionist engineer to blind out in a tournament.

    You really should study ICM and fold/push strategies. These are pretty well known and "solved" situations. You can make these decisions with confidence based on cold hard math, and your fear and other emotions don't have anything to do with it.

  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2018
    BoilerAce wrote: »
    Just thinking about this puts me on edge! I can’t even imagine doing that in the low stakes limp fest I play in. I see where you are going with this though.

    You are simply shortchanging yourself if you don't force yourself to focus on the other elements of the game as well.


    This also ties in with your tournament low stack strategy.
    https://www.pokernews.com/strategy/what-i-learned-from-playing-a-poker-tournament-with-no-cards-30157.htm
  • kenaceskenaces Red Chipper Posts: 1,449 ✭✭✭✭
    BoilerAce wrote: »
    From RedChip, I've loosened up over the last few years and make a lot more profit in cash because of it. But I still find myself not wanting to take iffy spots to showdown when facing aggression in cash. I don't take control when I should. I still find myself blinding out looking for a good starting hole cards or made hands in tournaments while I see others using aggression to win in front of me. I make decisions based on my poker $$ graph not wanting to make my trendline go down, instead of making proper poker decisions. It's a constant struggle to keep myself from tightening up over time...before every tournament I have to remind myself to quit waiting on cards and shove with enough BB where I have fold equity. I can study all of this great RC information and know what I should do... but continually go back to conservative at the table. It's almost like I don't 100% believe what I'm learning.

    I tend towards "left brain perfectionist" and I can be a bit obsessive about things I am really interested in/care about(i.e. poker as a 10+ year pro). BUT I find this to be a strength. With all the software available today you can really dive in and get very good answers to your poker questions.

    Seems to me you might also have an issue with a loss aversion bias?
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    DrTricia wrote: »
    If anyone tells you that they have achieved such a fete

    Ha, good one

  • BoilerAceBoilerAce Red Chipper Posts: 426 ✭✭✭
    Definitely a lot of good information here. I didn't want to respond too soon because I didn't want to derail the thread before everyone could add their advice. Over the last couple of home game sessions, I've focused solely on loosening up a bit and getting to showdown when I'm in what I consider iffy situations. Amazingly enough, I was usually ahead for the showdown win (although sometimes barely...ha). As Splitsuit and others have advised me, it's okay to be wrong....learn from when I am wrong instead of folding and not knowing. It's much easier to do at $0.25/0.50 NL, but can I do it at $1/$3? We shall see.

    I also shoved a lot in my last single table tournament and finished 3rd, in the money. It was definitely nice to get back in the $$ and see how many times players folded to my bigger stack shoves.

    kenaces, yes, I do have some loss aversion bias. Self diagnosed. As I get more and more comfortable with the swings of higher limit poker, the chips become more tools than real money. Playing the hand correctly becomes easier. It's going to take a bit though to get myself to make plays at $1/$3NL like 3 betting the aggressive table captain out of position with QQ, etc. The right play but building a huge pot OOP for that amount of money still will be challenging!
  • BoilerAceBoilerAce Red Chipper Posts: 426 ✭✭✭
    Oh...by the way, there's so many push/fold charts out there. Which ones are the most simple to use? I'd like to just save a couple of them on my phone to get a feel of the situation....I don't see myself memorizing 10 charts.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    BoilerAce wrote: »
    As I get more and more comfortable with the swings of higher limit poker, the chips become more tools than real money.

    This is why I mentioned tournaments and ICM calculations etc., because there this is literally true.

  • Darren DirtDarren Dirt Red Chipper Posts: 30 ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Grunch:

    OP remember that it is okay to focus on playing a good match to your personality and neurological makeup, aka cash games instead of tournaments; if you are really nitty preflop then your patience can be rewarded in cash games, while in MTTs you might make it through 50%-75% of the field by folding so much but a lack of gamble will leave you short stacked -- and busted out with your first lost coinflip -- especially once antes kick in.

    I speak from experience, I used to be too loose in cash games and way too tight in tourneys, over time I reversed them and thus have more success in both.

    But the reality is, MTTs still require luck in the end <20bb phase, when stacks go in the middle preflop -- so cash games are less variance by far. They are the best place to apply your logically-determined preflop discipline.

    However if like me you are set on playing the MTTs too (personally it's a fun social thing since less actual cash at risk) then embrace that variance -- earlier! Exploit, take advantage of your tight image by re-SHOVING against the obvious LAGs after their open when around 15-25bb effective. Not at 7-15bb like many nitty MTT regs. That should keep you alive more than just good hole cards, plus the extra chips make it likely you survive a lost coinflip!


    Also, as a safety net, to prevent being blinded down to dust as you fold garbage orbit after orbit, try this: when around <7bb consider doing what I do, always:when folded to you in LP against obviously nitty BB/SB/Button, OR as your own survival-OPEN from UTG, fake-look and pause-shove. Use your hands to cover your cards just enough to prevent your line of sight -- but only you can tell that you are doing that.

    With a tight image you should get folds all around maybe 80% of the time... Even I do, and I am quite loose compared to tournament regs -- yet I still get these blind-ATC shoves called by AK or high pairs and almost never anything else; and still I am 25-35% to bust those nits when they do call. Exploit and embrace. Wheee!
  • Darren DirtDarren Dirt Red Chipper Posts: 30 ✭✭
    Yeah. This thread intrigued me (as a left brained high function ASD old man who loves puzzles and adapting to thw randomness of live poker) but has a lot of replies. :) which I will now read...
  • Darren DirtDarren Dirt Red Chipper Posts: 30 ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Post-grunch:

    OP first of all thanks for your honesty/vulnerability, and also I must say it is nice to hear you are facing your fears. Keep it up!

    Loss aversion is a personal issue for me too, for example at $1/2 live cash games, even though I can turn 50bb into 150 pretty consistently, I just this week had to admit to myself that I feel afraid to "risk" 100bb to start, or to stay at a good game much past 200bb (a decent profit am i right?) But I am hurting myself longterm, all because of the feared pain of losing due to "bad luck" or a bad read/move.

    It happens, I'm human, sometimes they gii way behind and hit their outs. Get over it, me.

    Only way to get over it is to have math/logic solid as part of a planned system and then put in the damn hours executing that system! Adjust as lessons are learned, of course. No system is ever done, "perfection" not possible. :)



    Be intentionally mindful of your emotional state and mental hangups and irrational scripts you are playing out at the table... breathe slowly and accept your fragile and annoying humanity and then take action! Like you have started to do. Execute congidently the plan that you know should beat your opponents. Because maths.


    And unless you want to overwhelm/confuse your brain, IMO at low limits the ICM and push/fold stuff is notmainly about memorizing, it's mostly about practicing drills/quizes and working out the numbers sometimes on your own *so much* (away from the actual tourneys) that your subconscious now recognizes repeated situations. Instead of calculating/remembering precise numbers/facts instead now you can listen to your "gut".


    Plus, make focused effort to always pay attention to your immediate left esp. who is in the blinds or on the button (and who keeps raising/shoving on your right), and adjust wider or tighter ranges based on your gut, to the degree "what feels right". If way wrong you will learn fast by that pain of losing, o well that's life, then you adjust and get closer to... perfection ;)

    Anyway that's my 40% of a nickel (in Canada we have no cents/sense).
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    when folded to you in LP against obviously nitty BB/SB/Button, OR as your own survival-OPEN from UTG, fake-look and pause-shove. Use your hands to cover your cards just enough to prevent your line of sight -- but only you can tell that you are doing that.

    Wouldn't it be easier to just look at your cards the same way you always do, than try this Cold War stuff?

  • Darren DirtDarren Dirt Red Chipper Posts: 30 ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    Then you would fold the 52o or Q6s that you keep getting dealt and letting go... I am talking about open shoving pre when <7bb as a safety net alternative, instead of blinding down to 2 or 3 bb that nits often** do in low stakes live MTTs.

    Plus, truly not knowing means you won't give away strength of your hand -- with imagination you can "believe" you have a premium... because you might! I have done this enough times where once I had QQ when called so my "cover" wasnt even blown.


    **But the point is, for nits who have a fear of risking their tiny stack with medium hands, this is an option that negates that fear and prevents the blinding out problem. I have lost count of how often I see nitty players fold to 2-3bb then shove JJ/AK and the BB must call ATC so the nit busts 25-30% of those scenarios. Seriously lost count.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Then you would fold the 52o or Q6s that you keep getting dealt and letting go... I am talking about open shoving pre when <7bb

    If your strategy is to open shove any 2, then why would you fold Q6s? I don't see what actually looking at your cards has to do with it. Sounds like faking looking at your cards takes more effort than actually looking.

  • Darren DirtDarren Dirt Red Chipper Posts: 30 ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    "Why?" Because you are human, emotional, fear is an emotion and seeing a meh hand can lead to "chickening out".

    Actual looking means your intentional conscious brain knows something, which therefore opens door to expectations/emptions unconscious reaction micro expressions etc.

    That's all I was saying. Real looking opens the door to chickening out -- but fake looking (takes really no more effort, if you already have a consistent motion when peeling your cards) keeps 100% of hands in your range so you could as easily have AKs as 72s, no possibility of giving away thru body language or words if u don't know.

    /derail
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 4,998 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I get your point vis a vis limbic system, etc. Personally I'd look and just get over chickening out, lol Seems to me you're just as likely to do something unconsciously different when you're trying not to look as compared to how you usually do it. Not very important at the end of the day....
  • Darren DirtDarren Dirt Red Chipper Posts: 30 ✭✭
    edited April 2018
    "Seems to me" yeah I can understand that POV, But I speak from action that I have taken multiple times the last 12 months. Personally I find it to be positively "freeing" to do the blind shove, no need to "hide" my happiness or disappointment in a hand that I committing my stack with, no requirement to "choose to not chicken out"

    ...and since I logically know I might have 72o or I might have AA there definitely is no obvious body language to giveaway the fact that I think my hand is garbage --because it might be quite the opposite. :)

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