Pride is OK, just don't let it hurt you at the tables

November 30, 2017, Stephen Bloomfield  

It’s good to be proud of yourself, your skills and your game. Without pride, you can’t be competitive. But hubris and pride can be destructive.

False pride is a huge problem. Some players attribute positive outcomes that were lucky to skill, and some attribute negative outcomes to bad luck and not enough skill.

Poker’s clearly a combination of variance, or luck and skill. Skill is a long-term measure, while luck evens out.
Don’t let excessive pride lead to destruction by misjudging your sessions when you judge luck to skill.

Pride also figures into good laydowns. Can you lay down pocket aces on the turn or river when the villain jams and pushes you? Or do you let pride get in the way and blame “stupid luck.”

You sit at a table in your regular room at your regular stakes and don’t recognize many of the people. You’re a regular and have pretty good long-term results, so you think these folks will be easy, a table full of fish. You sit back, watch your iPad or iPhone, and all of a sudden you’re down two buy-ins. Your pride or hubris kicked in, but in an unhealthy manner. You ignored betting patterns, tells and the flow of the game. Maybe you learned something.

You made a prideful assumption that you were better than them, without knowing them.

There is good pride. It’s based upon introspection and an honest evaluation of your skills and ability.

There is bad pride. This is an excessive belief in your skills and abilities that’s unrealistic. You start playing games that are too tough to beat. You start making bad decisions, thinking you can control the cards.

The solution is to know yourself, get honest feedback and keep up the self-analytics. If it gets out of control, get help.

And, as always, keep your head in the game.

— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at editor@anteupmagazine.com.