Potentially Avoiding The Disappointment and Suffering from Poker

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A look into an unconscious issue that all poker players have to deal with: the issue with naturally created expectations.

Expectations – The Losing Stress Podcast Ep 25

[00:00] Hey guys, it’s Chiggs! It’s another Losing Stress Podcast.

I’m back to discuss something a lot of poker players haven’t considered consciously. Or haven’t seen the danger of.

And that is the issue with having expectations in poker.

[00:17] Now to get started with let’s understand what an expectation actually is or what we mean by it.

And the simplest way to understand it is really that an expectation is a creation of an inner belief that:

“I deserve to win” or “I should win”.

This is something that is built up quite often unconsciously. And let’s see if we can look into this with a few examples.

Some Examples of Disappointment in Poker

[00:41] I think one of the best examples is say you’ve been putting a lot of time into studying poker off the tables. Say you’ve been running sims. You’ve been watching a lot of videos etc.

Then quite likely and unconsciously this is going to create a belief that you now deserve to win. Because you now have acquired this knowledge that you didn’t previously have.

But the reality is the competition may also have this knowledge already. And not only this, this doesn’t guarantee results in poker, unfortunately.

The reality being that poker outcomes are obviously not fixed. We know this logically. But because we’ve gone ahead and learnt all this theory and material what this has done in reality has improved our chances of winning. However, it is not a guarantee.

[01:29] And we know this logically. However, when we put in all this time, emotionally it sits somewhere.

Essentially this expectation is built up unconsciously. And it then creates this inner resistance somewhere in your mind.

What I mean by this is; say you go ahead and learn all this material and then you go on a bad run/ a downswing in some way. This is likely to create mental issues because what’s actually happened, say losing a lot of days in a row, is going to meet this inner expectation, which has been built up from doing all this work.

And unconsciously it ends up building this resistance. And then what happens becomes challenging to accept because you’ve put in all this time.

It hits this inner resistance and it creates this turmoil and confusion.

[02:22] And now before getting a little deeper into this, let’s go ahead and provide one other example, which I think is quite an interesting one.

[02:30] In that, suppose a person is going ahead to play the main event.

Now the main event is this tournament that has all this excitement around it; all this history; all this cultural influence. You’ve probably heard it’s one of the best tournaments to play; this great opportunity to make a lot of money if things go well.

And so with this influence, it creates this internal excitement about the tournament.

You’ve probably watched it on TV. This excitement about it is built up over a number of years.

And then when you go ahead and play and it doesn’t possibly go well it can create a lot of disappointment. And this possible feeling of emptiness.

[03:13] So, hopefully, you can see how these examples are very similar.

The stimulus of something not going well then meets this inner expectation (which you’re probably not fully conscious of); it then meets this and it then creates this emotional issue (this psychological issue).

[03:32] And hopefully you can see how you can create lots of different examples similar to this.

Say when you’re about to play SCOOP and you have these expectations that you have built with how that is going to go.

Or say you’re going to be playing someone heads up that you believe you have an edge on and it doesn’t go quite to plan.

Understanding Disappointment in Poker

[03:52] So we’re starting to understand what the issue is.

The issue is this creation of this expectation, which then results in this inner resistance.

[04:02] So let’s see if we can understand how this expectation is actually built up.

It’s been discussed above briefly. But we can understand how it is actually built up by bringing attention to the way our minds work.

In that, it’s created through thought.

[04:20] Any kind of thought that you have about the future with poker will be creating some kind of expectation.

You can label this thought towards the future in any way:

  • Daydreaming
  • Dreaming
  • Hoping
  • Expecting
  • Planning for it go well

Any of these thoughts are automatically creating this potential inner resistance (a pattern) to when things possibly may not go well.

[04:49] And the thing is, the more we think about it, the more this expectation is built up.

And the real issue here is: the fact that we are automatically absorbed in thinking all the time.

So this is where this whole meditation and awareness approach to living really does come into play.

In that we can actually spot this whole mechanism happening. Because it is a mechanism. It is automatic in the way it happens.

And in the very spotting of it, you can notice what actually happens: the mechanism stops.

[05:24] And if you notice you have been thinking down a certain line for a long time.

So you’ve noticed that you have been creating this expectation (say you’ve been daydreaming about the Main Event going well or something similiar) then you could potentially have some thoughts in the opposite direction.

For example:

  • “It’s just one tournament”
  • “It’s a tournament that everybody gets excited about”
  • “But it is just one tournament. I’m going to go play it as best as I can but I’m not in total control of how it goes”
  • “And in fact I’m not in total control of how I’m going to perform even”
  • “But I know I’m going to try my best and that’s all that matters”

[06:06] Just taking a quick step back to what we were talking about before: with The Losing Stress Podcast, in general, what we’re trying to explore is:

Is it possible to have this inner freedom? So that poker doesn’t affect us psychologically so much.

Because the reality is (in all honesty) is that it does.

And so we’re trying to work out how does this mechanism work in the first place. And hopefully, you can understand how having these thoughts surrounding expectations in poker create this resistance. And don’t allow reality to simply flow through.

[06:46] There is a tendency to think this is a natural part of the game. However, that is a very closed-minded view. And is potentially closing yourself off from this wonderful opportunity to not let poker affect your life so greatly.

So you can go ahead and enjoy the rest of your life outside of poker.

So it doesn’t affect your relationships and your enjoyment.

[07:10] If you really grasped how much these negative emotions have on your health, your emotions and, most importantly, your own happiness you would start to take something like this a lot more seriously.

And not just operate in this automatic fashion. Which clearly, as we’ve described, creates issues.

Freedom And Poker

[07:32] When someone plays poker professionally they gain this wonderful external freedom. In the fact that you’re your own boss, you can work whatever hours that you like. You don’t have to deal with things like office politics etc.

However, there is this trade-off with dealing with internal issues.

Now, what we’re trying to explore here is that there doesn’t have to be this trade-off.

That is what we’re really trying to get at here.

[07:58] That by better understanding what’s going on internally it offers a fantastic opportunity.

Key Takeaway

[08:05] And I think that’s a great place to leave this episode.

This whole issue of expectations being created, though, is a real-time issue. So just listening to a podcast like this and kind of shining the light on the problem is quite clearly not going to be just the solution.  

It’s something you’re going to have to see and be aware of within.

And the actual application of it: being aware of it actually happening is where the magic really lies.

[08:29] So if you have listened to this podcast, I hope you have taken away something of real worth here.

These podcasts are really trying to get into the human element of poker. They’re really quite different to the rest of the content that people are making out there in the online space.

So I do hope you are finding it useful. I will be back to talk about various other topics.

Take care guys!

As always if you do want to reach out to me in anyway, I’m @lchiggsl on Instagram.

Take care! And good luck with everything!