Confidence - the ultimate poker character trait
The Art of being confident
Confidence. Who do you think of when you say it? What does it make you feel thinking about these people that pop to mind? Do you want to be like them? Of course you do :) confidence is sexy! Do you think you can be successful without it? Let's discuss it.
Confidence and success go hand in hand, there is no doubt about it, you can't have one without the other.
This blog post is going to be a word about this important elelment in poker, gambling and sport. So in my opinion, why does confidence plays such a big part in Poker? Well it really depends on who you are and who you'd like to be, but I'm going to give you some almost real examples (from the film Rounders) to emphasise its necessity on the card table.
First off, appearing and better yet, being confident sends off a clear message in a live game to your opponents that you mean business and perhaps they'll think twice about messing around with you as the cards get dealt one at a time...perhaps not...then you can crush them like a fly, in the proverbial sense!
So what is confidence? In my opinion, it is full belief in one's own abilities to perform an action well, a core inner strength that can be gained from successfully repeating an action well performed and where you generate trust in this and consequently know how to execute a thing well in order to bring about the best consistent results. It's about getting the right balance of skill, luck, judgement, timing and the ability to read another person's hand at the tables as best as you can and doing so regularly. Sometimes a great fold when you hold K8 on a KK7 board can bring you confidence when your opponent shows K10 suited! Throw cool profile into the mix of this as well and you have it; a confident poker player.
Your confidence can 'grow'
Through faith in a system or strategically played cards can breed confidence as the money stack starts to turn in your favour. Of course, sometimes you can get unlucky, but by slowly creeping up the bankroll ladder but by bit, you'll get to exactly where you want to be. It may just take a little longer than you want it to. My advice; don't rush it. Confidence gets all the ladies. Confidence gets all the money. Don't think about losing. Losing is not an option. Ever.
So what can we do when our confidence is on a downward swing or at an all time low when the cards haven't been going our way?
1. Firstly, take a bit of time out. Take a break from poker and allow yourself to re-charge and to forget about any bad losses incurred.
2. Don't fret so much about the result, good or bad, just keep playing and enjoy the process.
3. Focus on the positives and previous successes; amazing what doing this can do to your immediate confidence!
4. Don't beat yourself up, particularly if you are new to the game. We learn by making mistakes and we are only human. Learn to keep control of your own emotions, don't go on tilt (step out the game) and don't care what others think about you!
5. Try to win mini battles, small pots or small games, and savour any successes, however small.
6. Try to think about the level you are playing at - is it appropriate to play 25c/50c Texas Hold'em cash game tables if you only have a $50-100 bankroll? No, you'll likely get crushed. Not always of course, but usually if you're unconfident you'll get squished and squeezed for all your $52. Another example; doing your best, after a break, and coming 20th to achieve a cash out in a tournament competition can be just as good at this moment when you have been running badly left right and centre for a while, as finishing within the top 5.
7. Try not to bluff too much
8. Tighten up
9. Learn for yourself and do it for yourself. Don't feel under pressure to play or not to play for or by others. You are your own person!
10. Finally, persevere; never give up!
A word on over-confidence
In the film Rounders, actor Matt Damon finds himself with a full house A9 going all in with his last money to shockingly lose to AA (a better full house) after he foolishly thought he had the best hand. Obviously he didn't have a good read on his opponent. The whole film is then dedicated to Damon's 'fall from grace' and the inner and outer conflicts he faces while deciding to quit poker mainly due to others' wishes. He struggles to contain his own personal passion for the game. That is, until he is thrown back into the world of poker, when his childhood friend worm comes back on to his scene. Damon's characters' love for the game turns into a necessary plan of action to save Worm who has a huge number of debts on his back. Basically, the whole film is in the end about Damon's rebuild and fight back for his money only to be back at the same point where he was at the start of the film with the stakes much higher - his life. Damon learns many lessons on the way back and when he returns to play the 'Russian' mafia connected poker player he has in fact become a different animal - he believes in himself completely this time, no ifs/no buts and wins back the money and more for himself. In the end, he does this for no one else, while all others doubted him. This time he has no choice but to win. When he wins he heads off to the WSOP. Fully deserved. Could he have done this without being confident? Nope.
Are you the confident Matt Damon at the end of the film or are you him at the start, not quite sure whether you want it or not? To reach the top, you have to have 100% confident in your own abilities and if you are not then well perhaps you still have a few lessons to learn or things to do first. I'm no different to this! To get a shot at the WSOP title or equivalent what would you need to do? What money would you need to achieve your ultimate dreams? Have a plan, achieve your goals one goal at a time, one card at a time and your confidence will soar, as will your profit margin and then your opportunities will come knocking. Why else are we doing this poker thing after all? Find your inner confidence and achieve your dreams, whatever they may be.