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Loser's Mentality

By: TheLangolier @ 17:52 (EDT) / 531 / Comment ( 10 )

I’m giving you fair warning:  This blog entry may hit home for some readers in a way that is uncomfortable for them.  I encourage you to read on with an open mind, because if you see yourself in some of the following and simply dismiss it, you will continue to be a losing player or wallow in mediocrity. 

I continue to see it again and again.  A losing player, someone who I’d observed make several pretty significant mistakes already in the game, has a version of the following episode:

They get their money in good preflop with something like KK vs AK, only to bust when the ace comes.   “This is BS, this **** rigged site!”  (For the record, this did just happen but was not on PokerStars.  Regardless, I have seen this same exact sequence on every single online site I’ve ever played). 

-The RNG isn’t right, my good hands don’t hold up (the “it’s rigged against me personally” argument)
-Bad play is rewarded so these donkeys can stay in action (the “it’s rigged in general against winning players which is why I can’t win” argument)
-The underdog/favorite/big stack/short stack always wins!  (the “it’s rigged to some nefarious end that favors the website” argument. Yes I’m aware those things I slashed together are contradictory, but I have heard versions of all 4 more times than I can count, always phrased against the player making the statement of course)
-They constantly deal for action here, big hand vs big hand, cooler vs cooler. (the same as the above, with the nefarious reason being to marginally increase the rake).

Have you heard versions of these before?  Of course you have!   Have you said or thought them yourself?  (be honest).   In fact I’m sure some readers were adding others in their head as they read… “you forgot about this one Dave!”   Yep yep, no doubt.

All these complaints, as well as others you may have thought of, all have a common underlying theme:
They place the blame for one’s losing on external forces.

This is what I call a losers mentality.  I’m great, it’s not my fault I lose, it’s the site/rng/other players/bad luck/etc.  If you’ve ever felt like this, even a tiny bit, don’t feel bad.  Just correct it going forward.  This is a very easy trap to fall into with poker because there is an element of chance.  You can play a hand perfectly and still lose it.  Your opponents can also play a hand really bad and still win it.  The frustration of this when a few such hands bunch together, combined with our natural human need to protect our ego, make a fertile ground for the losers mentality. 

The problem with this mentality, is that it stifles your ability learn and grow.  If you’re already awesome, and only lose because of <insert excuse here>, then there’s nothing for you to learn, right?  

Wrong.  There’s always something more to learn, and you don’t always play optimally.  It’s much easier to place the blame for our failures everywhere else than at our own doorstep, but the truth is, until you take personal responsibility you will be your own worst enemy towards success. 

This doesn’t mean that every hand you lose, or every tourney you bust, is your own personal misstep.  But if you are losing money over time, it’s almost certain you are contributing to it. 

I’ll give you an example from my personal experience.  Many years back I went through an extended downswing in tournament play.   I was sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong, analyzing each bust out hand and feeling comfortable I wasn’t making any mistakes on them, I was just getting unlucky.  After enough time however I could no longer accept it was just bad luck without doing a deeper analysis.   I decided to start by picking 3 tournaments at random and reviewing them hand for hand from the beginning.  I honestly did not expect to find anything, but knew I had to approach it with an open, dispassionate mind.   What I discovered surprised me.   In those events when I was the preflop raiser, I was continuation betting the flop near 100% of the time.  In some cases those c-bets were downright terrible mistakes, and they were costing me a lot of chips.   While my actual bust out hands indeed seemed fine and I was just getting unlucky there, in 2 of the 3 tourneys I reviewed the player busting me just barely had me covered… meaning if I hadn’t leaked off chips earlier in the events by making bad c-bets, those would not have been bust hands.   Granted I would have been short stacked after them, but still in the tournament rather than on the rail.  I did a full review of my prior 2 months c-betting and resolved to focus on making better c-bets (and non-cbets).   Three days later I took 3rd in tourney with 1000+ runners for a very nice score… an event in which I was crippled at one point when my KK got unlucky vs QQ all in preflop.  Had I not made a correction in my strategy and fixed my c-betting leak, that would have been another unlucky bust hand for a min-cash.  Instead, I was able to survive that hand, get a little lucky recovering from my short stack and get a top 3 finish for the effort.

The moral of the story is, stop blaming your failures on external forces.   Accept that you are not perfect, your game has leaks that can be plugged and your knowledge has room to grow and adapt.  Sometimes you did just truly get unlucky in the short term.  But while ranting that the game is rigged somehow may protect your ego, it won’t do much good for your long term results. 

Be honest with yourself, keep working on your game’s growth, and focus on the things you can control (your decisions), and we’ll see you in the winner’s circle again sooner rather than later.

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