How to Stop Constantly Checking Your Poker Balance

PBC Project
01 May 2024
01 May 2024

Many players struggle with the habit of constantly checking their session results during play. If you're one of them, read on. This article is specially for you.

This mental problem consists of two components:

  • The root of the problem
  • Consequences of it

Understanding Variance

The root cause of this behavior is the player's shifted focus towards short-term results rather than long-term success.

In poker, variance plays a significant role in the short term. The longer the distance, the less impact variance has.

Here are a few examples (based on a poker variance calculator):

  1. Win rate 7 bb/100, standart deviation 80, 1k hands:
    In the first interval (70% of situations), results will vary from -18bb to +32bb.
  2. Win rate 7 bb/100, 80, 10k hands:
    In the first interval (70% of situations), results will vary from -1bb to +15bb.
  3. Win rate 7 bb/100, 80, 100k hands:
    In the first interval (70% of situations), results will vary from +4.5bb to +9.5bb.

In the second interval, the variance range widens, but the trend remains the same as in the first interval. (If interested, you can explore specific values using a free variance calculator).

Remember: distance beats variance, and it's crucial to keep this in mind.

Consequences of Short-Term Focus

Considering the significant impact of variance on individual sessions, daily, weekly, and even monthly play, focusing solely on short-term perspectives can lead to intense emotional swings (aka tilt).

Players concentrating on the short term may experience more volatile emotions compared to those focusing on the long term.

Regular emotional fluctuations can result in mental burnout, depression, apathy towards poker, and other negative effects.

Moreover, constantly monitoring short-term results during a session can intensify emotional reactions and influence decision-making. For instance:

  • A player may avoid risky but +EV moves, even in advantageous bluffing situations, due to recent losses.
  • Negative emotions like anger, resentment, disappointment, or despondency may distort perception and decision-making.
  • Players may opt for less profitable but safer decisions to avoid further losses or protect recent winnings.
  • A player's mood might lead to looser-than-usual play.

Additionally, this issue may affect self-esteem and confidence. Even technically winning players (for their stakes) may experience self-doubt due to short-term results, undermining overall effectiveness.

Ultimately, this fixation on short-term outcomes may prevent players from realizing their full skill-based EV.

Whether due to poor emotional state or suboptimal decisions influenced by current results, players might fall short on their long-term potential. It leads often to temporarily derail their game.

Focus on What You Can Control

In poker, you can't control everything, so focus on what you truly can, including:

  • The quality of your decisions
  • Accumulating volume
  • Your technical and mental mastering
  • Your overall mental and physical well-being
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