You think to yourself, “I’ll just rebuy one more time, and if I don’t run it up, I’ll leave,” as you pull a few more hundred dollar bills out of your pocket. You walked in with high hopes. This time, you’d be putting Benjamins into my wallet, not taking them out.
Fast forward 15 minutes, you’re holding T9o in the big blind. You see a flop 4 ways, the flop comes QT5 with two hearts and pair your ten. You are out of position, so you check. It checks around to the button, and he makes a small bet. “Maybe that queen hit him, but he’d probably do that with all his hands that missed too.”
So you call, and another guy calls too. This pot is starting to grow.
“Bingo, another ten on the turn.” Now you have trip tens, but it’s a really draw-heavy board. Lots of straight and flush draws out there. You’re first to act, and you check again. The old man in the cutoff shoves, then the button over shoves. Back to you. You think about it a while, and finally say to yourself, “There’s a chance I’m beat, but I’ve got a re-draw to a full house on the river,” and you put all you money in too.
The river is an offsuit deuce.
Villain on the button says, “Fives full.”
Old man turns over Queen-Ten for a boat, and you sheepishly muck your cards.
You ask yourself, “Why did I even come in to play?” You knew you weren’t in the right frame of mind to be patient. Maybe you were just bored and found yourself near the casino. Not a great reason to play. Sessions like this leave you feeling really defeated.
If you’re a sports fan, you may have seen this famous clip. After the New York Jets lost a game to the lowly Cleveland Browns, New York Times reporter Judy Battista questioned the Jet’s coach Herman Edwards on the team’s ability to win.
His response has now been viewed on YouTube millions of times.
“You play to win the game. Hello? You PLAY to WIN the game! You don’t play to just play it. That’s the great thing about sports. You play to win.”
The quote struck a nerve with fans, and was even remixed for an NFL show as a song. (Video of that song below.)
Let me ask you a simple question. Why do you play poker?
An obvious answer might be to say, “I play poker because it’s fun.” Or, “I play poker to because I lose less than when I play blackjack.”
There are a lot of reasons why people play poker, and it has a dramatic impact on their decisions during a hand.
Here is a partial list of motivations for playing poker:
- For fun
- Because you’re an action junkie
- Because you’re chasing losses
- Out of habit
- You like the social aspect
- Your friends are playing
- You’re practicing a new move
- Your wife is out of town
Do you play to win?
If you are truly playing to win, then every decision you make at the poker table should be made with that goal in mind.
Would a professional poker player been able to get away from that trip 10s hand? When the tightest guy at table shoves, and then he gets called by another tight player? You bet. Pros make better decisions in tough spots. That’s why they’re pros.
An interesting thing happens when you listen to how elite poker players think and talk about hands: you start to absorb some of the concepts. Things start to make sense as you think about things in a different way. You start to think more like a pro.
A very simple thing that all pros do is to know exactly why they are playing. They play to win. That’s the only way they pay their bills.
So before you sit down at the table, ask yourself, “Why am I playing today?”
If the answer is not, “I play to win the game.” With everything that entails, then you’d be better off going to see a movie.
What are the top 3 reasons why you play to win? Leave us know in the comments below.