Destructive Ego Defense: Self-Protection Mechanisms in Poker

PBC Project
05 Jun 2024
05 Jun 2024

Our ego can often use non-constructive (or even destructive) defense mechanisms when faced with poker failures in order to protect its self-esteem and maintain a positive self-image.

These defense mechanisms serve as psychological strategies that individuals unconsciously employ to deal with feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, or failure.

By understanding and recognizing these mechanisms, a poker player can start moving towards healthier strategies, discipline and personal growth.

Destructive Defense Mechanism of Poker Player

Here are some defense mechanisms that a player can use:

  1. Denial: A common defense mechanism where the player refuses to acknowledge the true reasons behind their failures, attributing them to external factors or dismissing them altogether. This can prevent the player from learning from their mistakes and taking responsibility for their decisions.
  2. Projection: Involves shifting blame onto others or external circumstances, such as luck or fate, instead of accepting personal responsibility for the outcomes.
  3. Rationalization: Another defense mechanism where the player creates logical explanations or excuses for their failures, often to protect their self-esteem or justify their actions.
  4. Idealization: Occurs when the player sets unrealistic poker goals or standards for themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy and procrastination as they strive for unattainable perfection.
  5. Devaluation: Involves downplaying the significance of achievements, either their own or others', in order to maintain a sense of superiority or control.
  6. Aggression: May manifest as lashing out at others in response to feelings of frustration or failure, displacing negative emotions onto external targets.
  7. Isolation: Involves withdrawing from social interactions and support systems during the downstreak.

Why Is It Bad for Your Poker Progress

These mechanisms are harmful because they:

  • Hinder learning from mistakes
  • Spoil relationships with people (colleagues)
  • Increase suffering, especially because problems remain unresolved, and the player constantly stumbles on the same rakes, using the same defense mechanisms that prevent progress

How to Stop Destructive Mechanisms

Instead of all above, you should:

  • Acknowledge and accept failure
  • Analyze the reasons
  • Forgive yourself
  • Focus on your strengths
  • Set realistic goals
  • Seek support

Failures are a part of life, a part of the professional career of any poker player, and no matter how many times we fall, the most important thing is always to find the willpower within ourselves to rise.

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