Dealing with making mistakes and losing big pots

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When you make mistakes or lose big pots in poker it can sit with you for some time; preventing you from moving on and concentrating on the next hand. Often this even prevents you from enjoying life outside of poker. This episode delves into understanding this situation. And explores some practical solutions to both “knowing” and “not-knowing” mistakes.

[00:00] Hey guys! It’s Chiggs. It’s another Losing Stress podcast. An in this episode, I want to talk specifically about making mistakes in poker. And probably a little bit about losing big pots as well.

Now, this should be quite a short and snappy episode so let’s get straight to the point.

[00:17] When we make mistakes in poker or lose a big pot then this is really one of the biggest reactionary, mentally, emotional struggles to deal with in poker.

Now, all of these things are related to the mind. All of your experiences are being naturally processed through the mind.

And so to get a “better handle” of how we deal with making mistakes in poker and losing big pots it requires an understanding of how the mind reacts to these situations.

[00:53] Can you be aware when you do make a mistake or when you believe you’ve made a mistake how it then becomes a mental construct in your mind? Where your attention is continually drawn back to what happened.

[01:07 ]“Oh, did I play this spot correctly?” or

“Did I make a big mistake?”

And it also leads to other thoughts where you beat yourself up possibly:

“Oh, I should have done this”

“Oh, why did I make this mistake? Etc.

Essentially there’s a whole content, a whole storyline of thoughts built up continually pulling you down into some kind of disturbed state. Can you be aware of this whole mechanism in process?

And the word mechanism is important here. Because as you start to become more aware it, you become aware of the fact that it’s a mechanical process after you make the mistake.

It’s reactionary.

It’s simply what the mind does habitually without awareness.   

[01:54] And it’s so useful to actually observe and be aware of this process as it happens. Because you can observe and see how the mind gives life to this dead thing. The dead thing being this thing that has happened in the past.

And so it’s incredibly useful to be aware of this as it is happening in the moment.

Which is where this whole awareness approach, which I have been talking about in the last few podcasts, really does come in to play.

[02:22] When you see it for it is; for yourself; this whole mechanism acting; through thoughts continually pulling you back; puling you down this certain direction; down a narrow storyline then you’re understanding how the mind is really operating.

Interrupting this pattern, this stream, that is leading you somewhere.

And not only this it is building this perception or filter to how you are now perceiving reality.

And it’s reality that is always in the moment.

It can be blocking your ability to concentrate on the next hand.

Or it can be sitting there in the mind kind of preventing you from being able to enjoy your time, that you’re then going to spend after playing, with your partner, your children, your friends etc.

[03:07] Now when you listen to this you might be thinking, “Ok, what about learning from your mistakes?”

Because obviously that’s important as well. And so let’s discuss how we can practically deal with mistakes so that they don’t create this psychological issue that we’ve talked about. But actually we can still go ahead and analyse and learn from the mistakes that we do make.

So that you do become a better player.

[03:33] The most useful and simplest step when it comes to looking at mistakes is really to categorise them in one of two ways.

  1. A mistake of not knowing – which is really not a mistake. So coming to a spot where you didn’t know what to do.

This is a perfectly normal thing: where every poker player will have situations where they weren’t quite sure of what the right thing to do was. Or the best decision to actually make.

And so how can you deal with this practically?

[04:04] The best thing you can really do is to quickly note down the situation either on your phone or mark if you’re playing online. So you can look back at it further down the line; not actually when you’re playing.

Because if you’re thinking about it continually when you’re playing then, like we mentioned earlier, you’re blocking your ability to actually play the actual hand that you’re playing with all your attention.  

And so note it. And look back at it at a time where it is convenient.

By actually building this as a process that you’re going to do always it really does free up that psychological space in your mind.

Because you then know you are going to look at it. And you going to clear up and work out this thing that your mind really wants to solve.

[04:52] Now the second type of mistake is a mistake where you knew what to do but you made a mistake based off other factors:

  • Not paying enough attention;
  • Being distracted;
  • Feeling the pressure;

Or any kind of reason like this.

[05:09] Now, with these kind of mistakes the logical thing, of course, is that they happen to everyone.

However, what can happen in the mind is that it can create thoughts where you beat yourself up.

“I should have done better here”

In fact the word, ‘should’, is a great indicator for when you’re not meeting reality.

[05:30] Reality, which is the point I’m sure I’ll continually make, is always happening in the moment.

[05:35] And so, when you make this kind of mistake and the word ‘should’ acts on it or any thoughts act on this mistake you’re effectively, again, giving life to this dead thing.

It’s become this thing in the mind.

And it’s individual. Because it’s not in anybody else’s mind.

[05:54] So like I talked about earlier, can you be aware of this whole mechanism in process as it is happening?

Because if you can become aware of it as it happens or as close to (as possible) it happening you have the opportunity to break out of this pattern.

And also, understand the mind in operation.

[06:14] Another important thing to note is that: you can become aware of this operation, this reaction, as it happens. And so break the pattern of it.

However, down the line, you might recognise or be aware of the fact that you’ve become absorbed in this kind of thinking again: where your mind is effectively chewing over this mistake. I.e. it is creating all these thoughts in relation to what happened.

And so do become aware of this.

[06:44] What we’re effectively talking about here is breaking a habitual pattern in the mind.

Breaking a habitual pattern of the mind requires a different approach to one that is built up from a method: that is through thoughts.

[07:00] Now I hope that’s clear and not contradictory despite the fact that I’ve given a practical way of those “not-knowing mistakes”.

With these “knowing mistakes” (we knew what to do) you’ve really got to understand how the mind operate on it. Because the alternative is to have it play out in your mind and later on down the line let it go and forgive yourself for it.

Which all requires time. I.e. thinking about it.

However, if you can be aware of it as it happens then that’s really a wonderful thing.

[07:36] Can you die to the experience of this mistake that has happened?

So that it doesn’t form this mental construct. This memory that is absorbing your attention.

[07:46] So I think I’m going to leave it there because I think this a very useful podcast for poker players in general.

I didn’t talk about losing big pots. But if you have got this stage, I hope it has become clear how dealing with big pots is very similar to dealing with mistakes in poker.

With the approach being understanding the mind through awareness.

[08:09] Ok guys. As always I’ll be on Instagram. I’m @chiggsl.

Take care. I’ll speak again soon.