Decision-Making in Poker: Strategies for Success

PBC Project
22 May 2024
22 May 2024

Poker is a game of decisions. The success and efficiency of the game depend on the abilities related to decision-making skills and the quality of decisions made.

Decision-making Process

The cognitive processes involved in decision-making are very complex, and finding an optimal solution requires considering several key elements.

1. Assessing and analysis of information

During the game, this phase is broken down into two main steps:

  1. Previous theoretical preparation
  2. Analysis of each specific situation

The theoretical foundation helps interpret game information more correctly, while careful observation provides important details and features of the current situation.

2. Analysis of possible options

This largely depends on the player's theoretical foundation. For example, this can involve choosing bet sizing, a specific line from possible options, and so on.

3. Planning all possible outcomes

In poker, it's important to forecast possible scenarios based on different decision options.

There can be many potential consequences, and in the heat fo the game, these may not be so obvious. For instance, it's possible that choosing a less profitable line might be "less profitable" in the moment, but it could pay off in the future by shaping a certain image. Conversely, a marginal call with nearly 0 EV on average, if unsuccessful in a specific situation, can negatively affect your emotional state.

How Can We Improve Our Decision-making?

1. Work on the game

This is quite obvious. Deepening the understanding of the game's structure and its various aspects allows for better analysis of each specific situation.

The higher quality input data you have, the more effective decisions you get.

2. Take care of health

More energy, increased energy efficiency, and access to essential micronutrients (especially those affecting brain and nervous system functions) — all of those are somewhat similar to "boosting" a computer processor.

3. Mental preparation

This is important because our emotions influence cognitive functions to some extent, distorting perception and thought processes.

Under the pressure of emotions, our goals can change.

So, you might sit down to play poker in a perfect mental state, with the goal of making quality +EV decisions, but suddenly something negative can harm your mental state, causing your goals to shift to non-constructive ones.

For example, some guy may start annoying you, causing your goals to shift from the initial ones to wanting to fight against him. Or, during a downstreak, goals may shift to recouping losses or minimizing risks. Such goal shifts almost always have varying degrees of negative consequences. It's like a very intelligent person with excellent decision-making skills sincerely pursuing the goal of destroying their health (bankroll, relationships, etc.).

The stronger your concentration, the more high-quality information can be gathered. In this regard, you can work on improving your concentrating ability or you can use simpler and faster methods by eliminating distracting factors around you.

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