Pride and Poker

by ~ September 3rd, 2008. Filed under: Philosophy and approach.

Not exactly Jane Austen (I’m referring to my fave of her novels, btw!), but I think it’s an important concept that I’ve been meaning to get to looking at.

Dignity? Self-respect? Self-esteem? After that, the definitions of pride become negative in connotation, such as Conceit, Vanity and Egotism. But I think that we all “pride” ourselves on our poker playing ability, or “take pride” in our knowledge and skill. There’s some sense of a standard that we are holding ourselves up to, trying to maintain and represent well.

Does this kind of pride mean we are never wrong? Does it imply that we always hold firm with our stated beliefs? For a poker player, this still doesn’t mean that we always play the same way as 1) no two situations are ever exactly the same, and 2) we need to mix up our play so our opponents can’t get a complete read on us.

So what then is the difference between taking pride in our appearance, and pride in our poker playing skills? Or being part of a company, team, or country that is “proud”, and being proud of the way we played our last tournie? Are all of these things good, or are they all bad?

I dunno. I do know that for me, pride gets in the way of making the optimum play sometimes. It gets in the way when we should step down in levels for a while. “I’m not a $10NL player, I’ve been playing $25NL for months now”. That’s the arrogant, bullheaded side of pride. Or how about “He’s always raising me, more than he raises anyone else. He must think I’m weak.” Does that sound like wounded pride? What about when you misplay a hand badly? You misread someone as having nothing and try to push them off the hand, end up showing down your bluff and your opponent had exactly what he represented. According to the dictionary embarrassment is akin to wounded pride.

What about “bad” plays? Are they impossible because of our pride? What comes to mind here are minbets/minraises, limping preflop with less than 10BBs remaining in our stack, or pot overbets/shoves. As we move past the beginner and freeroll levels we see why these are generally bad plays because of the pot odds and situations we create for our opponents, and yet we shouldn’t totally remove them from our arsenal because they can be useful tools in specific situations against specific types of opponents.

I think there is more for me to investigate on this topic, but that’s all that comes up for me right now.

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