Results Oriented Thinking in Poker

written by: John

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Results oriented thinking in poker is making decisions based on results that you have seen others have or have had yourself. This is in despite of common sense or long-term mathematical expectations - things that poker decisions should be based on.

Being results oriented is destructive to the psyche of a poker player. In fact, I could easily argue the fact that being results oriented can be worse than tilt in some aspects. At least you know when you're pissed off and tilting. You aren't always aware of when you're being results oriented, at least not until your entire game and bankroll is sunk.

Examples of Results Orientation

One of the most common examples of results orientation that I'm sure most players have experienced at one point or another is folding a hand preflop (marginal or garbage) and watching your mucked hand hit the flop hard. This bothers me more when it's a hand I really considered playing, but ended up folding instead.

Another rather common example I've seen is players who like to mimic what they see other professional poker players do on TV. I've actually had players tell me, "Oh, Phil Ivey plays 3-6 off suit so it means that it's a good hand to play." This is obviously wrong on so many levels, even disregarding the fact that Phil Ivey can read souls and play post flop poker.

My last example of results orientation and one that has affected me the most is when I make a play that I'm sure is 90% correct given the circumstances and it fails. I immediately wonder if what I did was the correct play or not, despite the fact that I was so sure of myself when I did it.

Consequences of Being a Results Oriented Poker Player

There are several consequences of being a results oriented poker player. In general, you won't be making decisions with long-term mathematical expectations in mind. This is obviously incorrect. There are several other smaller consequences as well.

Loss of Confidence: A lack of confidence will stem from making decisions that don't work out for some reason. This will make it increasingly harder for you to be confident in any decision you make as well as make it more difficult to avoid being results oriented.   

Change of Style or Strategy: Many players who are results oriented will feel that they have tons of leaks and problems with their game. They will then go and overhaul their game in attempt to plug these leaks and it's possible that their game will actually worsen as a result.

Difficult Time Improving: Poker players are going to have a difficult time improving if they're telling themselves that they're doing something wrong or watching and mimicking someone else's play.

Overcoming Results Orientation in Poker

Although it's not easy to do, overcoming results orientation in poker is possible. Here are some suggestions that have helped me overcome results orientation in my own poker game.

Don't Mimic Your Favorite Pro: Just because "Phil Ivey does it" or "Daniel Negreanu does this" doesn't mean you should. They got to where they are through hard work and solid play. Just because they can make 7-2 profitable, doesn't mean you can - at least not yet.

Study Your Hand Histories: Use tools like Sit n Go Wizard, Poker Stove and Hold'em Manager and go through each hand you play. You obviously want to look for mistakes that you make, but don't forget to also highlight the things that you are doing well. 

Have Confidence in Yourself: When you make a play, tell yourself that this is without a doubt the most optimal line you can be taking. Don't let the results of what you do tell you otherwise. You want to have confidence in yourself so you continue to make plays based on long term expectations.

Play for the Long Run: If a play doesn't pan out, who cares as long as it was made with positive long term results in mind. All plays you make should be based on long term results, not guesses or hunches. This will make it much easier to avoid or overcome results orientation seeing as how these plays should prove to be profitable.

Get Help from Other Poker Buddies: This is something that helped me quite a bit. If I made a play or did something that didn't quite work out and I thought maybe I screwed up, I asked a few of my friends to take a look and give me their thoughts. You'll find more often than not that what you did is not very different, if at all different, from what your friends would do themselves.

Play Poker for Long Term Results

Like any other poker leak, being results oriented can have a devastating effect on a player's ability to play poker profitably. But if you can understand that not every hand will go your way and just play poker for long term results, you'll find that you'll become increasingly confident in your abilities regardless of the results of the actions you take.