Good In Theory But Not in Practice

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Do you ever make mistakes in poker and look back at them wondering how you made them given that you knew very well what to do? Having spoken to many poker players and from personal experience, this is a common occurrence and vital to look into.

The Losing Stress Podcast Ep 43 – Good In Theory But Not in Practice

[00:02] Hey guys, it’s Chiggs. And in this episode, I’m going to be delving into the topic that might’ve been explored in the past on The Losing Stress Podcast with respect to making mistakes when you play poker. But in this episode, we’re going to be dealing with a specific recurring scenario that occurs frequently.

Because when you play poker professionally or semi-professionally, this scenario is the instance when you make a mistake and you look back at it afterwards. So you make a mistake in the hand and you look back at it afterwards, you immediately know what the right answer was, but you chose the wrong answer.

With this scenario, there’s typically this judgment of yourself and this beating up of yourself in some way, in some form of thoughts, but rather than go into this, because I think The Losing Stress podcast has gone into this issue in the podcast on mistakes.

Looking At Mistakes in Real-Time

[01:09] What I think is useful is to look into the real-time dynamics of this mistake being made.

Now, when you start to look at this, then you inherently start to look at the reasons for why you made this mistake. And they can be a whole number of things:

  • You could have felt the pressure of the moment perhaps because the situation that you were in was worth a lot of money or;
  • Maybe you were distracted for some reason because you were looking at your phone or;
  • You were playing too many tables and so you automatically made a mistake.

And we can continue coming up with more and more reasons.

Note this is typically how most people end up analysing mistakes. They look to find the exact reason why a mistake was made in this one individual solo case without seeing that they’re all very similar. When you go a little bit deeper and see the general issue that is at play here.

Mistakes in Poker are Similiar

[02:20] The general issue when you look at it quite simply and clearly is that if you make a mistake where you knew what to do, then the issue, of course, a lack of attention.

But the majority of people aren’t willing to look this far. Or even if they do, don’t take this very seriously.

And I think the reason for this is that being attentive doesn’t really have this cultural significance. Because when you look at human beings and their general behavior now and what they’re interested in, it tends to be something that they will make money out of immediately. They can immediately make that connection or they’re interested in getting some form of stimulation or trying to look cool, trying to look good, etc.

Mistakes and a Lack of Attention

[03:23] Being attentive is not sexy. Or it cannot be sold as a thing that will make you money. However, are automatically influenced minds lose sight of the fact that being attentive is of course intelligent.

If you are attentive to your thoughts and actions when you play, then there is that space to be able to act.

But this might actually be jumping a step too far. As I’m speaking this out loud, I’ve realised that it’s important to clarify:

What is attention?

I think most of us see attention as concentration.

And concentration is the act of bringing your mind to focus on something. And I wonder if that is real attention?

Is attention this action from a center that forces you to focus on something or is attention not the product of thought whatsoever?

And if you’re listening to this you may be thinking,

“Okay, great, you’re talking about something mysterious here because how can you get this attention if it is not the product of thought?”

What Brings About Attention?

[04:50] No, I think it’s actually really quite simple. If a person really cares about playing poker very well in this session, in this hand, then inherently there is this attention. That’s because the act of caring implies attention.

And so when you look at it this way, you can see that this whole issue of these ‘knowing- mistakes’ that occur, is now transformed into,

“Ah, perhaps I don’t care enough.”

Or there wasn’t enough care taken at the time when this mistake happened because some other priority took precedence over this care to play well.

So for example, wanting to play quickly or wanting to reply quickly to a message or some other reasons.

Thus what we’re uncovering here is that caring is this quality that all human beings have but it becomes blocked due to certain automatic habits. And so to see this blocking arising in the moment, of course, requires this awareness, which again all human beings inherently have.

The Intelligence of Awareness

[06:23] And so listening to this, will you take awareness seriously because you see the link between awareness and intelligence?

Or, will you go about taking no action and simply acting the same way?