Scared to make a play ’cause I might lose

by PokerAnon ~ May 17th, 2010. Filed under: Fear of raising series, Poker psychology, Poker theory.

It’s tough starting out in poker. You can read all kinds of advice and theory but when it comes time at the table can you do it? Can you remember all the theory and the specifics you should look for to make a specific play? What happens to you when it doesn’t work? Or when it does?

It’s a double edged sword. Bad things that you do might work out, and then you remember them and tend to want to repeat them. Good things that you do might not work and then you become afraid to repeat them for fear of losing again. I remember calling a raise mulitway with ten/four suited and I flopped a full house and stacked the player who raised with Kings. It became my “favorite” hand and I looked for opportunities to play it again. Conversely who hasn’t raised with Ace/King and missed the flop, sometimes 3, 4, 5 times in a row.

As you play more and more hands you start to get a feel for the truth behind the theory. You start to really get a feel for calling a preflop raise with 44 knowing that most of the time you’re just going to throw it away when you miss the flop. Then you start to add some challenges; raising the flop bet or floating when the preflop raiser continuation bets a very dry flop. Some of these are going to fail as well, and these plays will be more costly because you’ve invested more money in the pot.

When you play a lot of hands you don’t worry about this too much. If you believe that you are making the play correctly you know that in the long run you’ll come out ahead. And when you multitable you can quickly offset these loses with wins using other plays and value bets on other tables.

But when you’re starting out you don’t have this feel for the longer run, and if you’re not multitabling you can similarly be afraid to make plays that may cost you money this particular time that you do it. This is a lot like the issue of playing with scared money which often happens when you play underrolled, but for me I’m currently aware of it simply because I’m not playing as many tables as normal.

To set the scene, I had been playing 6-8 tables of $25nl FR and I jumped to $100nl FR, starting first playing only one table and even now, at the time of writing two and a half weeks later (this post may be delayed posting), only playing 2-3. There is a monetary concern when I make a play like calling with 44 and deciding to raise a flop bet because the bet sizes are larger than I’m used to, but I’ve got a very narrow stop-loss set and I’m happy playing within it. What’s more disappointing is just having to give up that one time that I make the play, simply because I’m not playing that many tables so it’s likely to be a long time before I get the correct situation to try to make that play again.

So it’s not scared money so much as annoyance when a play doesn’t work. When I fold after c-betting and getting raised, when I stab at a limped pot from the blind with bottom pair and then check/fold the river, when I float the flop intending to bet the turn and get bet into again and decide to fold, these kinds of plays bother me less when I have more tables going but when I have only a few it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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