Poker detachment

by PokerAnon ~ August 7th, 2011. Filed under: Philosophy and approach, Poker psychology.

Sometimes when I’m playing multiple poker tables I will intentionally look away from a table. This might happen when I raise or call all in (after I see my opponent’s cards but before the balance of the cards are dealt) or sometimes when I raise or 3 bet preflop. Rather than sit and watch how the board runs out or to see if the player calls or folds I shift my eyes to another table.

Why? Not because I’m in a rush or because I have my tables tiled and they disappear after I make my play. My layout is spread and I can easily scan across all my tables if I choose to do so and I almost never play more than eight tables at a time. But I look away because I can’t do anything about how the cards run out, or because I can’t do anything to affect whether any of my online opponents are going to call or raise.

These make reasons make some sense. But these are poker-tense situations, these are entertaining situations. I’m denying myself the entertainment value of watching these situations. Like watching sports on television or a lottery drawing when I have a ticket I have no influence over the outcome and yet I have some investment, financial and/or emotional, in the result.

But watching these situations tends to cause more difficulties than the value of the entertainment. I can get anxious, worried, excited, exasperated, frustrated, angry. I might yell. I might pound the desk. I might swear, and loudly, or cheer just as loudly. And when I get this emotional over a hand, this high or low, it affects my game negatively. That’s the real reason why I look away.

It’s not as bad as it used to be when I first started out. I don’t get as high or low as I used to but I’m still aware that my heart can start racing or that even after I shake my head my game is still affected in the hands that follow.

I’m not sure what to target as the ideal. If a favorite sports team is playing badly I’ll turn of the television, but generally a large part of my enjoyment of watching is tied into my emotional attachment to the team and I’m fine with that. The problem with poker is that I do have some degree of control over the future outcomes and so I can’t let myself get thrown so badly by my reactions or let my run-bad or card-deadness affect my play or my confidence in my play.


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