Trying not to out-level, leads to thinking I can outplay

by ~ May 2nd, 2009. Filed under: General poker strategy, Philosophy and approach, Weaknesses.

Here’s an equation that I have problems with.

Trying not to outlevel myself (playing at too much of a higher level than my opponent, trying not to assume that my opponent has as much background or knows as much about poker as I do)
putting my opponent on a much wider range of hands and simpler thinking process.

The problem with this is that subconsciously this leads to

thinking that I’m a better player than my opponent
disrespecting my opponent
always thinking that I can outplay my opponent.

Essentially this is a circle, where I end thinking that I can out play my opponent, so I out-level myself again.

Where I do okay with this is in private freerolls, where, even though it’s private, still the level of play is uneven. What I do here to maintain detachment is to do something else at the same time; read, browse the internet, house-clean. I just play the situation, fold a lot, give up when I don’t think it’s worth the risk, and get aggressive when the blinds increase.

Some players find that multi-tabling works in the same way by increasing their detachment to any one situation on any one table. Sometimes this helps me, but one of the dangers is that because it’s still poker any one tilting situation can spill over into the play on other tables, whereas if I’m reading a book or sorting clothes there’s not likely to be any spill over. And by tilting I mean anything that throws me off my normal game; an overly aggressive player that keeps betting into me when I don’t have something to fight back with, a bad player that I keep isolating but who keeps catching hands with his garbage, blind steals that repeatedly get 3 bet, ect.

The thing is, you can’t outplay a calling station who has middle pair and you hold AK that has missed the board. You can’t outplay someone who chased a flush that filled on the turn with an overpair and you don’t hold a card of the suit. All you can do is to try to minimize your losses when you’re behind and have no fold equity, and maximize your wins when you think that you’re ahead. Bet for value and for protection, call to try to get to showdown cheaply, fold to protect the rest of your chips. It’s that last one that I don’t do well in cash games sometimes, and that I do tend to do better in tournaments.

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