A Mistake Is A Mistake

The above statement is true, at least insofar as “A” is “A” (which it is). However, all mistakes are not created equal. Some mistakes cost a pot, some cost a bet. Some occur occasionally, some recur repeatedly.

In 2010, mistakes cost more than they did in 2006.

There’s a good chance they’ll cost even more in 2014.
It used to be common to have multiple bad players at every table. The type of player who would be described as an asset, because they’re generating income for the other

players at the table.
These players will often play until they go broke. So if

you lose a stack to one of these guys, there’s maybe a 20% chance that you’ll get a good amount of that money back before the end of the session. Some players play so poorly that it’s almost like you’re lending them money when you lose chips to them, because they don’t know how to hang onto it.

If you’re sitting at a six-handed table with three bad players and two good ones, there’s a 60% chance that the stack you lose gets “borrowed” by one of the bad players.10 Furthermore, they’re likely to just pass the money around with their fellow recreational players, keeping it in play, giving you a chance to recoup on your mistake.

This assumes you’re equally likely to get stacked by a good player as you are by a bad player. This may or may not be entirely true, but the basic point stands nonetheless.

If, on the other hand, you’re at a table with just one bad player (a typical scenario in today’s online games), it’s only a 20% chance that you lose that stack to a bad player. Now it’s twice as likely that whatever mistake you make (it doesn’t have to cost a whole stack) contributes to the coffers of a winning player. You’re not getting that money back. Yeah, they’ll make mistakes and you’ll make some more. But you’re that much less likely to have them return the favor. Good players just don’t fork over stacks of chips the way bad players do.

Since mistakes cost more now, it’s even more important that you diligently work on your game to maximize your earnings and stay ahead of the competition. You have to grab what’s out there right now.

That doesn’t mean that you should become overly upset every time you make a mistake. To the contrary! If you get so riled up that you can’t think straight, that’s likely to lead to more and larger mistakes. So stay calm. There’s no reason to tolerate the more persistent mistakes, however. Root them out and eliminate them from your game.

The mere fact that you notice mistakes in your own game is a blessing. It presents an opportunity for improvement. You don’t need someone yelling at you to change things that you’ve become aware of yourself. At the same time, when someone is yelling at you about how you’re such a donkey for playing a hand a certain way, don’t become defensive.

While you should never allow the words of others to make you doubt yourself, you should question yourself. “Was this the best way to play the hand? Was my logic sound?”

If yes, then great. You’ve played the hand well. If not, then great. You’ve found an opportunity for improvement. Don’t prohibit your opponents from helping you improve just because they’re trying to take your money. And don’t let mistakes disrupt the things you do well. Use them to build new strengths.

While you’re playing, you can’t worry about making mistakes. You can only make the best decision you’re capable of and move on to the next one. Try using this three step decision checklist:

1. Observe – Put your opponent on a range. What does your opponent’s line mean?

2. Decide – Find the best play. What is the best decision you can make against his range, factoring in the strength of your hand and recent history between you and your opponent?

3. Act – Take a deep breath and confidently make the play you have decided on, with a willingness to accept whatever the outcome may be.


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