06/03/2008

Don't Be in a Rush

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

I have diversified again over the past few weeks with my articles as I had intended to talk about the technical side of no limit hold’em and drifted off onto the subject pf psychology and personal analysis. Hey... speaking of personal analysis... would love to hear from everyone on the forum who did that 25 descriptive word test that I mentioned last week... poker players being what they are then I don’t expect to see many replies on the forum.

Lets face it, we see something in a book or in some article and most of us don’t follow suit do we. This gets back to what I have been saying about people finding it much more difficult to change their personality traits than they ever imagined.

The reason for me why poker is so fascinating is because it is a mixture of several individual subjects combined and this means that the game can never be truly mastered. But most people do not self analyse simply because it is either too boring or they are afraid of what the results might be.

Well hear this... don’t be afraid... why should you be afraid of extra knowledge. But yet people are afraid to know the truth in some cases. One of the areas that I want to talk about today is in the area of rushes. Actually I am going to digress here for a brief moment to tell you that my missus read a few of my articles on the site this week and ripped into me for “lecturing” people too much. It was the first time that she had ever read my work and she was shocked at how much I “lectured” in my articles and she even said that I “talked down” to the people who were going to read it.

I was shocked to hear this (obviously a piece of self analysis that I missed…lol) but I would just like to say here and now to everyone on the forum that I certainly do not intend for it to come across this way. The reason why I came on this forum in the first place was to be part of a think tank which is what forums are really and what is the point of that if you are only ever interested in your own views and opinions and as my mum used to say... “you don’t learn by talking son”.

Where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about rushes. Not the type of rush that Brunson talks about in SS but an adrenalin rush. Being around and studying gamblers for around twenty years, I am more than aware of why they do certain things and why they behave the way that they do in certain situations. The human brain is divided up into various parts but the limbic area is the part of the brain that interests us the most as poker players.

This is the area of the brain that our emotions and instinctive reactions are housed. Much of what we do as people and how we behave is based on the limbic area of our brain which has been hardwired into that particular area of our brain spanning millions of years of human evolution. Added to that are all our thoughts and experiences from birth that create responses in our behaviour in certain situations that we cannot always keep under control. This is simply because we have acted in a certain way, before we have had the necessary time to rationalise it and think it through.

But poker and gambling creates all sorts of different types of adrenalin rushes and many people and I am including very good players here are guilty of chasing those rushes at times even though they are fully aware that the play that they are making or did make was blatantly wrong.
For instance, the calling of a bluff with a very weak hand creates a tremendous surge of adrenalin as does the running of a bluff. I think that we can all feel the heart rate increase when we run a bluff for what is a meaningful amount of money. But chasing rushes will hurt you in poker and the reason is obvious, this is because you are no longer making rational correct decisions. The reason is obvious but the remedy isn’t I am afraid to say.

This is the underlying reason behind why many players chase draws. They are seeking the adrenalin rush of seeing the thing go in. This is a serious and little understood part of the game because at the end of the day, poker is played by everyday people. Irrespective of how good you are or how much you know then one thing is certain, there will be times where you will not do the theoretically correct thing because you have reacted impulsively.

How often you do this will differ from person to person but players who chase adrenalin rushes too much better stick to tournament poker because they have no future in cash games. Another type of rush that some players experience is the “cash out rush”. This tends to be in less experienced players and novices and not found with players who are used to cashing and winning money.

But the desire and the craving to cash can be so strong with some players that they almost refuse to get involved in action once they reach a certain point. The euphoria of being a winner is so powerful that it can be the driving force in how weaker players are basing their descisions. It’s a common fact that no matter how good you are, the cards and situations that arise will never be under your total control. But the point of this article is to point out that powerful internal forces are at work that will prevent you from even being in control of the one thing that you thought you were... yourself. As usual I welcome all responses on the forum including those of you who did the test.

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