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Self-Discipline in Poker

All poker players know somebody like Fred. You’re playing No-Limit Texas Hold’em, your pocket cards are the Ace and King of spades. You make a raise, and Fred calls, and it ends up being just you and Fred in the hand. The flop comes Q 8 2 with two spades, giving you the nut flush draw. You’re a crafty player, so you bet out about two-thirds of the pot, trying to take it down immediately, but Fred calls. The turn comes the 5 of hearts, no help for you. This time you check, Fred makes a small bet of about one-third the size of the pot, and you call. The river comes the 6 of spades, giving you the nut flush. You check, and Fred bets about half the pot. In turn, you push all-in for almost the size of the pot. Fred moans and groans about people always catching draws on him. He says outloud, “I know I’m beat, you have the flush.” Then what does Fred do? Fred calls with QT, and you take down a huge pot.

Self-discipline is a major part of being a successful poker player, whether it’s playing for nickels with your friends on the weekend, or just playing in an online setting in some of the best online poker websites like situs judi online bola, or whether it’s playing in the World Poker Tour, trying to make the televised final six of the final table. Here, it seems pretty obvious that our buddy Fred doesn’t have the self-disicipline required to fold his QT to your river check-raise all-in. He seemed to know that he was beat, and all the indicators of the betting seemed to imply that he was beat, so why does he still call? Let’s walk through the hand and try to figure it out.

We made a raise with AK of spades from early or middle position, and it seems Fred called with QT from late position. When the flop came Q 8 2, it gave Fred top pair with a not-so-great kicker, but top pair nonetheless. We led out with a pretty strong bet of about two-thirds of the pot, so what would Fred think we have at this point? We could have AQ or KQ for a better top pair, or we could have AA or KK for an overpair. Then again, we could have something like AK or AJ that missed the flop, or even JJ or TT. It’s hard for Fred to figure out exactly what we have at this point, so he just calls instead of building a big pot with a hand that could be vulnerable.

When the turn comes that 5 of hearts, it’s a card that couldn’t of helped our hand, and Fred knows this. Since Fred called out flop bet, he’ll probably call any turn bet that we make, so we just check. Fred makes a really weak bet of less than half the pot, which gives us good odds on our flush draw (not to mention overcards), so we happily call. We are even happier when the river comes the 6 of spades, completing our flush. We check, hoping that Fred will bet so that we can check-raise him, and he does. After we raise all-in, Fred has to make a decision to call or not.

He must of figured out that we didn’t have a queen, because we would have bet out on the turn just like we did on the flop. He must of also figured out that we don’t have AA or KK for that reason, so we must have been behind on the turn. Fred realized that the only hand that played like we played our hand is two spades, and he even vocalized this by saying, “I know I’m beat, you have the flush.” Then Fred calls.

Fred obviously thinks [hopes] that we are bluffing, but he’s taken the time to think through the hand and realize that we’re probably not. The only reason that he calls this huge bet on the river is that he doesn’t have the self-discipline to admit defeat and fold the hand. Instead, he loses a lot of money when he could have just folded and cut his losses.

Just like I said earlier, we all know somebody like Fred–whether you play poker or not. Self-discipline is not only taking the time to figure out what your action should be, but actually following through and taking that action without letting your emotions and impulses get in the way. I understand this is much easier said than done, and I’ve struggled with self-discipline more than most people at some phases of my life, but the more we work at it the easier it becomes, and it can quickly improve the quality of our lives.