Why do we play overly conservatively?

by PokerAnon ~ May 27th, 2010. Filed under: Philosophy and approach, Poker aggression, Weaknesses.

What causes us to play too conservatively?

We may have a standard TAG game or be somewhat LAG, but there are times where we just don’t play our normal game, where we find ourselves opting too frequently to check or fold or to passively call down rather than betting out or raising. Here are some situations where we might find ourselves playing too conservatively:

  • Poor bankroll management – playing without enough cushion
  • Emotional bankroll – our emotional bankroll does not always correspond to basic bankroll recommendations
  • Dollar values compared to daily money – a young pro once commented that in a bad day he can lose enough buy a car, but he also noted that you cannot think in those terms while you’re playing
  • New play level – being unfamiliar or uncertain at a new level or a new site can lead to conservative play
  • Stresses in daily life – if we’re down or lethargic or depressed it can be tough to play confidently
  • Table is unusually aggressive or limp/cally or trappy – if we become cowed into not playing our game and we have no alternative style that we’re comfortable with, we should find another table.
  • Aggressive players or calling stations in God mode behind us – either of these kinds of players can make our game  difficult
  • Near bubble – or ITM with large payout differences sometimes we can become too afraid of losing
  • Card dead; too tight – we don’t always need great cards to play, and sometimes a run of poor cards can cause us to not take advantage of image/situations where we could play aggressively with any two cards
  • Running badly/tilt – again a situation where our confidence becomes undermined. Confidence is crucial to successful poker play.

In general these issues all seem to combine some degree of fear and/or uncertainty.

Then the question becomes; what can we do about this?

  • If it’s table/seat specific in cash games, move to another table
  • If it’s card dead/seat specific, 1) pick some situations to just pump up the aggression, or 2) quit for the day
  • If it’s largely psychological (including tilt), 1) quit, or 2) play a lower stake, or 3) switch to tournaments from cash, or to cash from tournaments
  • If it’s specifically a confidence issue, 1) step down a level or 2) watch some coaching videos or 3) read or submit some hands for analysis or 4) get coaching or a sweat session from someone whose opinion you trust
  • If it’s any kind of bankroll issue, either the dollars, ratio of bankroll to buy in or emotional, either 1) step down a level or 2) set a fixed stop loss and treat it like a fixed free stake that you have from someone

Any other ideas?

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