Opinions and Mindsets in Poker

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An exploration into some of the general themes currently running in the poker environment. Are there limitations in being caught up in them? If you play poker this is well worth a read.

The Losing Stress Podcast Ep 45 – The Poker Environment

[00:00] Hi everyone! It’s Chiggs. And this is The Losing Stress Podcast.

It’s been a little while since I’ve actually recorded an episode, but we found some time now to explore one of the topics that you guys wanted to see explored when asked on a poll on the Instagram account @lChiggsl.

That is the topic of the poker environment.

Depending on your relation to poker, whether you’re somebody interested in the world or somebody’s actually involved with playing poker or somebody playing semi-professionally or just as a hobby, the themes that you’re interested in will be very different.

And so taking note of this the podcast won’t be addressing the points of interest of every audience. It will, however, be addressing the main points of interest for those that are directly involved within the poker environment.

[01:09] That is the players themselves that are playing poker right now.

Looking into What’s Going On in The Poker World Clearly

So that’s what we’re going to be doing; looking at the general themes that are currently running in the poker environment that are having an impact on the life of a poker player.

And that’s not to say that if you’re not a poker player, you won’t be interested by this find it valuable.

Because what we’re going to be exploring, can be translated to other fields and other professions.

So where do we begin with the topic?

This vast topic of the poker environment.

I think before we begin, it’s important to take a note with the fact that if you are involved in the poker environment, the likelihood if you being attached to one of the themes that we’re going to explore, is probably quite high and as we do explore this, is it possible for you to read this without any preconceptions?

Or if you find that you’re having a reaction to neglecting what’s being explored here, can you see that filter of neglection being applied within the mind? And bring attention to that rather than being absorbed in the habitual reaction that may occur.

What are the General Themes currently running in the Poker Environment?

[02:29] And so let’s get started.

There’s a topic that comes to mind that in fact crops up very frequently in my mind, personally: the way poker players in general perceive and value other people in the environment.

If you look at this, not only from observing the way others act in the poker environment but also from observing what occurs in your own thoughts and your own behaviors you find that the general tendency is to respect or idolise or value anyone else that you deemed to be successful. Or have a lot of money.

And rather than simply jump to labeling this as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ let’s see if we can see very clearly the limitations of being caught up in this.

Respect and Idolising Others in Poker

One of the limitations that comes to mind almost immediately is the case where you idolise another player in the pool that you regularly play in. And that may cause you to play sub-optimally against that person.

[03:46] When there is a belief that a person always has the better of you then this image becomes a reality in the mind.

And it is necessary to question whether this is rational? Whether this belief that’s formed in the mind is, in fact, rational and always true?

And before going into this a little bit deeper, I think it’s great to go into another example that could be insightful.

Working With Opinions on Players

Suppose you have an image of a player that you believe plays good, that you believe plays well, and you then observe a hand they play. A hand that you perceive they played incorrectly or made a mistake in.

Then does this change the image that you have of that person?

This image or opinion that you now have of that person most likely changes. It likely changes to one where you think this player now plays badly. And this new opinion/image sits with you in your mind. Which has an influence over the way you interact with this person. And even the strategic decisions that you make when playing in hands with this person.

So can you see that this image-making process is almost automatically happening when our minds are absorbed in the poker environment?

[05:17] It’s an interesting thing to explore because it’s clearly important from the above relatable examples. Hopefully, that’s clear.

Exploitative Play and Player Reads

But it’s also not possible to simply label as being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ because forming an image about a player certainly simplifies the decision making process.

What we commonly refer to as forming reads on a player and then making decisions based on those reads generally simplifies the decision-making process. And is the very basis of exploitative play. And contributes significantly to the skill in poker.

It can be translated to forming ‘accurate’ images within the mind about the other players that you’re playing with and from that having the knowledge and experience to pick the best strategic decision.

So to some extent you cannot deny the use of this image-making process in the mind and the use of it.

Emotions And The Opinion of Other Players

But, on the other hand, you cannot ignore the limitations of this image-making process. Because it can be based on false assumptions. And also if there was an emotion running within the mind, this dominates the image-making process.

[06:42] That can form a picture that is less than helpful.

And when you look into this image-making process (which is the same as the process of idolisation) you find that it occurs almost immediately, spontaneously and in an automatic fashion.

However, if there is alertness towards it what occurs?

If you ask yourself very plainly and very honestly, are you reading this with an image that you have about the writer? Then what occurs?

Looking At Poker Results

Then going back to something that is applicable for those of you that are directly involved in the poker environment, what occurs when you’re automatically and frequently looking at the results of other poker players?

Does this cause an image to be formed of the way things should be? And at some point in the future does this cause some kind of disturbance and struggle when you meet the stimulus of things not going ‘my way’?

Mindsets in Poker

And this is starting to lead now towards another general theme that is running in the poker environment that having the right mindset is everything.

[08:05] The topic of mindsets has been explored on The Losing Stress Podcast.

However, it’s clear to see that it wasn’t a very popular episode.

And I think this is for one or two reasons.

One reason is that some people just aren’t interested in finding our about their minds or having a mindset.

The other being that a lot of people now are absorbed in the mindset is everything approach. And an activity-based approach to dealing with the challenges, the mental challenges of being in the poker environment.

There is this reluctance to look at this whole mindset approach as possibly not being THE answer. Simply because everybody else is caught up in it:

  • Your friends that play poker;
  • The people that you respect in the poker community that are continually making content saying how important it is to have the right mindset and do certain activities and of course;
  • Mindset coaches.

And so this is very important to look at.

Advice to Succeed at Poker

Before we even proceed any further, we have to acknowledge that a lot of the advice that is given from a mindset based perspective is valuable.

[09:26] They often point to activities that are scientifically well-backed. For example, taking cold showers now and meditating as an activity.

These are popular things now in the poker environment.

However, are they popular because a person has been influenced or advised by person X or has a person from direct experience and clear observation, seeing the necessity of doing certain activities?

Say, for example, stretching in order to be healthy.

If a person brings awareness to the effects of sitting down for a very long time and playing poker has on the body what occurs?

That person directly sees the importance of doing something about this and from that then the activities are pigs.

And that’s a key difference here. Can you see the immense value, power and intelligence that goes with an awareness? And the seeing of things as they actually are rather than perceiving the world through an image of the way things should be and a prescriptive approach?

Are Mindsets everything in Poker?

[10:48] A mindset approach, unfortunately, leads to the latter.

It leads to a lot of confusion. Due to the fact that this belief has built up in the mind that something has to be done. And I have to do some activity.

A mindset approach or an advice-based approach is like being given some good ingredients. These ingredients can be very good. But perhaps you eventually find that these ingredients fade in their use. Or you find that you want more and more ingredients.

What if that whole approach was limited all together?

And in fact by observing your own mind and being with understanding the actual nature of things that you’re then able to pick the right ingredients?

And perhaps not even picking ingredients whatsoever.

Now, I think it’s best that we actually leave this here for now. Because we’ve exposed things here quite deeply and expelled topics that are having a direct impact on the life of a poker player right now.