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Repeating Your Mistakes

napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
edited November -1 in NLHE Strategy Discussion
I'm so happy for this forum: 2+2 is a train wreck. This focuses on MY poker world. Thanks for having me!

Now onto how terrible I am...

Has anyone had a specific mistake they know they make with alarming frequency that they struggled with but identified and eventually overcame?

My game has changed a huge amount in the past year and I'm working on many things and improving. But I have a mental leak: hero calling river bets more than ever before.

I put them on a narrow range. My reading skills have gotten quite good. I'm almost always right regarding if I'm beat or not. I'll decide I'm beat, but then call because "Man, this would be a great spot for him to...." ... and my read was right, my call was bad, and I lose a big bet on the river - AGAIN.

Any thoughts? Has anyone struggled with a CONSISTENT mistake yet found a way to overcome it?


  • Fish Fryer Posts: 161Member
    Identifying and wanting to change your error is step number 1. In the short term, take a little more time with your decisions and review them in your head before acting. Sometimes we see situations that are similar and go on auto-pilot, and your "course" might be the same mistake over and over.
  • SkinnybrownSkinnybrown Posts: 286Member
    My problem was raising and isolating hands I know I shouldn't.

    To fix the leak I forced myself to take a couple seconds before making a decision preflop. I started taking breaks every 1-2 hours to "check-in" and make sure I hadn't made the mistake yet during the session.

    Be accountable to someone else. ie. the next time the situation comes up post it in here (whether you called or not).

    Make sure to take extra time and do not rush anything.
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    Thanks. I do well at accountability; there are a couple of my poker friends that get a barrage of self-hatred from me every time I make the same mistake (usually more than once a session).

    I'm hyper-aware of the mistake. I'm rarely wrong when I determine their range vs. my hand, yet I often, over the past 6 or 7 months, will overlook my ability there and focus on the small part of their range that I beat... then make a terrible call. Even if I'm accidentally right and make a "sick hero call" (READ: DONKEY) every now and then, it doesn't make up for the money I'm spewing off with these bad calls.

    I know I'm doing it. I know when I shouldn't do it. Yet I still do it. Extremely frustrating.

    I'm truly considering, until I fix the problem, bringing an index card and keeping it behind my stack... something with just a symbol or a keyword to remind me to fold when I'm beat. That this is not a bluff - THIS IS A VALUE BET AND YOU'RE MAKING THEM A GENIUS.

    Maybe "Fold A-Hole" would be good to print on the index card. :)

    I'm open to any other suggestions with how to deal with stubborn, expensive mistakes.

    @skinny - at what levels were you isolating? I'm assuming at the futile lower levels?
  • shmed Posts: 321Subscriber
    One thought: is this happening more when you've been playing too long, tired, or stuck? If so, maybe you should think about playing shorter sessions, and being disciplined about leaving when you are less alert or tilted for whatever reason.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,090Subscriber
    What you need to do is stop self destructive behavior. YOU need to make a decision that you are either going to play for fun and don't care if you win or lose.. OR you are going to play to be profitable..

    If you decide to play to win money then you just need to OWN that decision and play accordingly.. I used to play too many hands too passively.. I had to stop doing that because I decided I wanted to be a winning player..

    Decide to win and hold yourself to it... You have NOT decided to be a winning player yet.. and until you do you will repeat this mistake..

    EDIT: What is more important? Knowing that you lost the hand? Or becoming a winning player?

  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    Hey shmed,

    Sadly, no, there's no consistency to the timing. It could be early, late, whenever. I don't tend to play long sessions usually due to my own life schedule. I average about 5.5 hours per.

    I'll find myself calling the turn with the INTENTION of folding the river... using the turn as the "truth serum" as someone mentioned the other day. Then they bomb a big river bet and I decide to tank... and come out wet and broke. Some sort of breakdown in my mental process along the way.

    Annoying doesn't begin to describe it, but I posted it here because I feel I CAN'T be alone, ha. Looking for someone who came out the other side of making a consistent mistake even when aware of it.
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    Hey Wendy!

    Here's the sick part: I am a winning player. It's been a solid second job of mine for a few years now. But this ... leak... I don't know if you even call it that since those river bets are so significant... but it arrived sometime this summer, I think. Next thing I know, I'm calling down bets left and right.... still a consistent winner. But, obviously, this is eating at my winrate big bites at a time.

    So that's why I posted, to see if anyone has been through a similar struggle, where your brain betrays itself and has you do things you didn't used to do and know you shouldn't. I'm reading Jared Tendler's book again and listening to his podcast, etc... trying to see if there's something I can mentally alter to shut this down.

    Get a tattoo on my left thumb that says "FOLD" HA.
  • Mike Posts: 371Member
    I had almost this exact problem. I would just call off all the time knowing that i was beat but convincing myself that there were hands in their range that i was ahead of. What makes you keep doing it is those times that they are full of shit and you win. Plus you are probably over curious like i was and wanted to see what he was doing and justifying it to myself by thinking things like, "ill pay this off and then ill have a better read on my op so it will pay off long run". This type of thinking is just horrible.

    My advise on how to try and resolve this issue is everytime this situation comes up and you pay it off write down in your phone or w/e how much of a bet you called and how big the pot was. When you look back at how much real $ you pissed away by not doing what you know is right you will feel so stupid you will start folding in your spots.

    My main leak is acting too fast and not thinking the hand all the way through... but i guess this stems from mass tabling online. Im working on this problem all the time.
  • StopHammertimeStopHammertime Posts: 81Member
    OP, here's something you can ask yourself: "What's this player capable of?" Hero-calling is fine, so long as the player you're hero-calling is capable of making a play that gives you the best hand when you call. But if they aren't... It's like defending a guy in basketball - if he can't dribble with his off hand, then you shade your defense further to his dominant side until he shows you he can.

    Edit: Also, a contrarian note: if you're constantly calling getting 3:1 odds on your calls, and you're right 35% of the time, it's going to feel like you're making bad calls. But you're actually winning money! I feel like saying that is throwing gas on the fire, though - and if it's making you frustrated you may be losing money elsewhere in your game. Plus, there's always room to improve. I don't want to encourage you to be a "bad calls apologist" :-) Maybe keep track of what odds you're getting and how often you're right? Would take a really long time to get a decent sample. (And if it doesn't take a long time, then I'm pretty sure you're calling too often!) Or, the nature of the calls - are they bet/calls, or just standard calls?
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    @Mike, you are right on target - almost my exact situation.

    I used to act too quickly in these spots, but now I'm more thoughtful about it... and STILL call.. A couple of weeks ago I started that same ledger on my phone, recording all of the times when I thought "I'm probably not good here..." yet called and was correct. I've been correct every time and lost the hand.

    The numbers are adding up. Hopefully it's on its way towards working.

    I know I'm going to make bad calls here and there; we all do. But the frequency and consistency of the EXACT same mistake is frustrating.

    And @hammer, regarding it being possibly +EV over time, it's not, ha. At the 2/5 level, it's not often difficult to put them on a range and to know whether or not you're ahead of that range. When I feel I'm no good, I'm VERY often no good. I'm rarely shocked and say, "oh shit, I'm somehow good here!"

    I'm glad to see that (Mike) I'm not alone here. I'm going to continue to use the "I know this was a bad call" ledger and let the numbers nauseate me. I am going to also bring some sort of reminder to keep in my stack. It sounds childish, but I've gotten too good at this game to be spewing this big a percent of my winnings on bad river calls when I know I'm behind.

    Thanks everyone for your input! I hope to be posting more about strategy in the future and not my own mental failings.
  • SkinnybrownSkinnybrown Posts: 286Member
    napncrash said

    @skinny - at what levels were you isolating? I'm assuming at the futile lower levels?
    I play 3/5.

    It sounds like this is a big problem. You should definitely have a rule where you HAVE to leave if you make this mistake. You should also have a rule that you must wait a certain amount of time when you are in this spot (at least 30 seconds).

    Have you made this mistake again recently?
  • grindbler Posts: 131Member
    i think at low stakes that discipline plays a huge role in your results...
    how you manage yourself, tilt control, ect... are at a premium.
    most opponents at this level are so bad that it starts making more sense to focus on mind-set issues as much or more than how to play your cards...
    especially if ABC poker is the proper adjustment in your game, then you prolly know how to handle almost every decision fine...
    like OP said, the problem is a matter of knowing the correct play, and yet not following through with it; this is a discipline problem, not a poker knowledge problem/ you arent being outplayed by anyone but yourself...

    I hear it a lot: "i never tilt'... but tilt is everywhere, and its not only 'hard tilt' that qualifies as tilt, imo. Any sub A-game performance is Tommy Angelos definition.
    not following through, and a lack of discipline in the heat of the moment; straying from what we know is the correct and most profitable play (ie. folding) is certainly non A game performance. The reason we study the game is to be able to execute what we've learned at the table in real time... sometimes we downplay the importance of the execution part, and start thinking that studying alone will magically make us execute the correct plays, but we left the discipline, following through, and tilt control part out of the picture... this is a blind spot i notice many 'good' players have... ego may play a part in that??

    I think it's sometimes useful to put the poker aspect on the back burner, and to focus on the discipline aspect of our performance...
    Other pursuits, such as learning to play a musical instrement, sticking to a work out regiment and charting it on a calendar, making changes in our diets, ect... can all have a positive effect on our poker games through helping to develop our discipline muscle. It will naturally carry over into our game and our results... it's just as much of a money maker as knowing how to play the game...
    among players of exactly the same skill level, the most disciplined one will prevail...
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    @skinny, yeah, I made the mistake the last two sessions. The last session was Wednesday night. Long story short, I'm OOP in a single-raised pot with a middling suited ace.

    Flop comes A high, monotone (not my suit, obviously.)

    Field checks to raiser. He bets, I call. Turn blanks, I check, he bets again. At this point I call with the intention of folding the river to a bet. He's a older regular, he's not making a lot of "moves" here and he's going to check back his random pocket pairs, etc... I know this already.

    Yet the river blanks, I check, and he bombs the river. At this point, I should have stuck with my plan and folded. Easy fold. Smart players fold. The plan was to fold. I USED to fold. But sometime this summer, I began to lose my mind on the river.

    ...instead I go into the tank and start imagining all of these scenarios where this would be "a great spot" for him to blah blah blah. And I eventually call...he flopped the nut flush with KQ. I gave him the exact value that I WOULD HAVE GONE FOR in the same spot.

    So in the end, as @grindbler says, it's not a strategy/knowledge problem. It was a mental/discipline problem. I let myself stray from a good/acceptable play (the call turn-fold river line) and CHANGED MY MIND once facing a big bet on the river. Embarrassing and infuriating. We all know, particularly at these stakes, a big bet, especially on the river, IS A HAND. WTF, FOLDDDDDDDD

    @grind is right: I wasn't outplayed by anyone but myself. The key is figuring out how to stop it.

    Part of the difficulty of live poker is the long stretches of time between specific spots or situations. In most other endeavors, you can just practice the same skill again and again and again. In poker, you have no choice but to WAIT for that spot to arise again and finally make the right play instead of the wrong one. It makes the waiting in between sometimes more tilting than the event, ha.

    With that said, I'm gathering my stuff and heading to the casino.
  • UntreatableFPS Posts: 1,004Subscriber
    I think had a phase with your exact leak. I used to fold, and during the phase, I would almost never fold rivers. I think part of what caused it was the fact that I thought I was becoming a better hand reader, but I wanted to call the river to "make sure" I was right.

    So I kept track of the amounts of all the river calls I made with bluff catchers and started keeping track of a "spew score" when I made calls in obvious idiotic spots. Seeing how much extra money I lost in those spots hurt, so I stopped doing it.
    While I was working on it, I also programed my phone to send myself periodic text messages that said things like "Fold more bluff catchers on rivers" or "River polarization = nuts"

    I know what my new leak (that I didn't have trouble with before) is now. It's perhaps worse because it's harder to keep an accurate record of, while river calls with bluff catchers are easy to track. But I don't feel like sharing exactly what it is on a public forum because it's pretty easily exploitable.
  • whatsyourplay? Posts: 752Member

    If I remember correctly, Tommy Angelo talks about an interesting concept that might help you here. Basically, you define one single objective before each session. It has to be very specific.
    In your case, it would be "In this session, my objective is to identify as many such situations as possible (where I usually make this error), and I try to stop making those bad calls." Your objective in this session is not to make money, have fun, play tight, or whatever you usually concentrate on or care about. Those things are also important, of course, but you ignore them for now.

    Maybe it helps to take a break each hour, and view each bracket as a separate session. Write down how many of those situations you encountered in this one hour session, and how many bad calls / good laydowns you made. After the session, you assess your own performance with relation to this objective, take a break, and start new session. Ignore the overall financial result of the session and other mistakes or interesting spots for the meantime. All you focus on is your initial objective, until you improve significantly.

    (To take it even one step further, you could even try to create and get into as may of those situations as possible. If you have trouble ignoring the other factors, mainly the overall result of the session, then just view this session as an "investment" into your growth as a player. Maybe you give up some EV in some spots in the short-term, but manage to close a big leak, which gives you much more EV in the long-term.)

    This approach helped me to improve many different areas of poker. You can adopt it to technical spots, emotional issues, etc... To anything basically.
  • chilidog Posts: 2,427Subscriber
    I don't know that it fits the direction that this thread has gone , but I have a mistake that I seem to make repeatedly:

    I'll go along for months booking more wins than losses, playing my tag / position style, and feeling pretty good about my poker game. Then maybe about 2 times per year ill have a monster blow up session where I dump like crazy and lose like 8-10 buy ins. And this is in live poker! I normally consider myself one of the more disciplined and emotionally in control players in the game, but then the blow up happens.

    It's a fresh wound for me cuz it happened this weekend where I lost 6+ buy ins in plo, then a couple more in NL. It was close to inconceivable to run as badly as I did early, but there has to be an element of "play bad" in there too.

    Thoughts? Comments? Tips?
  • napncrash Posts: 177Subscriber
    Woah chilidog! 8-10 buy-ins in live poker!? Knock it off!

    I mean, this might sound awfully simple, but bring fewer buyins! What if you just bring 500bb total or something along those lines? If your brain can't find the "stop" part of "stop-loss," then limit it by how much money is in your pocket.

    Playing the 100bb cap (boo!) 2/5 game at Borgata, I bring 2k. If I blow through that, I'm outta there. Being a decent player, that rarely happens, but we know sometimes shit just goes crazy. Plus, I don't want too much of my cash roll on hand. I use a certain amount of profit for other things when I need it, but I try to keep X amount of cash available. I don't want to have to have too much of that cash in my pocket at once.

    If it's an ATM problem, leave it at home. This all sounds super simple, but you can't lose 8 buyins if you only bring 4 or 5.
  • SkinnybrownSkinnybrown Posts: 286Member
    chilidog said

    I don't know that it fits the direction that this thread has gone , but I have a mistake that I seem to make repeatedly:

    I'll go along for months booking more wins than losses, playing my tag / position style, and feeling pretty good about my poker game. Then maybe about 2 times per year ill have a monster blow up session where I dump like crazy and lose like 8-10 buy ins. And this is in live poker! I normally consider myself one of the more disciplined and emotionally in control players in the game, but then the blow up happens.

    It's a fresh wound for me cuz it happened this weekend where I lost 6+ buy ins in plo, then a couple more in NL. It was close to inconceivable to run as badly as I did early, but there has to be an element of "play bad" in there too.

    Thoughts? Comments? Tips?
    You need to have a stop/loss. I use 4BI's.
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